He, after all, goes by "The King," displayed a "Chosen 1" tattoo across his back, owns a Twitter account that reads, "@KingJames."
We have seen the arrogance.
During "The Decision" and then the celebration that was equal parts hubris and pyrotechnics, when he couldn't prevent himself from forecasting championship increments even Michael Jordan could not reach.
And now? Now the humility.
To a degree, the process has worked in reverse for LeBron James. He was celebrated for what he could become. And then, when he moved closer to achieving the ultimate goal alongside a championship cast, he was ridiculed.
NBA finals: Heat def. Thunder 4-1
Winderman: LeBron James has been a prodigy, superstar and villain. And now he's champion. The journey has left the league and Finals MVP humbled and happy for those closest to him.
Not Barkley. Not Malone. Not Stockton. Not Ewing. Not Miller.
LeBron James is a champion.
No longer solely about awards or statistics. No longer a portrait of haughtiness, telling us how his life is better that ours. The very moment that rightfully could deliver conceit instead conveyed humbleness on Thursday night.
Heat 121, Thunder 106.
Miami 4, Oklahoma City 1.
". . . not two, not three, not four . . ." but the one that matters most: the first championship.
And nothing like last season against Dallas, when the fourth quarters seemingly were played in his absence.
Some will put an asterisk next to this one, especially those who weren't holding hardware when Thursday turned to Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena. But inside the Heat locker room, the cloud has been lifted.
Not for Juwan Howard, the 18-year veteran who finally got his first ring, or for James Jones and Mike Miller, veterans who now will consider retirement. But for the teammate who is not a team captain but who has given his soul for this moment.
From the start of these playoffs, he wore the mouthpiece that read, "XVI," the 16 wins necessary for this moment, the extra two that were missing at this stage last season.
And then, and then he exhaled.
"It took me to go all the way to the top and then hit rock bottom basically to realize what I needed to do as a professional athlete and as a person," he said with the championship trophy to his right, Finals MVP hardware to his left.
"You know, I'm just happy that I was able to be put back in this position. I trusted my instincts, I trusted my habits that I built over the years, and I just got back to just being myself, and I didn't care too much about what anyone said about me. I just kind of made my own path, but did it the right way, and I'm happy I was able to do it the right way and do it for myself and not for anyone else."
This was raw. This was a superstar stripped of veneer.
"I told you guys over and over and over, I was playing to prove people wrong last year, and people would say I was selfish, and that got to me," he said, echoing comments he had made earlier during the public, confetti-filled celebration. "That got to me a lot because I know that this is a team game. I know the coaches that I had when I was younger always preached about team.
"A lot of people were saying I was a selfish person and a selfish player; it got to me. All last year I tried to prove people wrong, prove you guys wrong, and it wasn't me. At the end of the day, I was basically fighting against myself."
Only in defeat, in Dallas defeat, could he reassess, move forward, rise again.
"The best thing that happened to me last year was us losing the Finals, you know, and me playing the way I played. It was the best thing to ever happen to me in my career because basically I got back to the basics," he said. "It humbled me. I knew what it was going to have to take, and I was going to have to change as a basketball player, and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted."
PBT: Have the Grizzlies figured out San Antonio, or will tonight's Game 3 yield another win for the Spurs?
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
DPS: Is it really all about the rings?
DPS: Dan Patrick talks about Phil Jackson's comments about starting a team with Bill Russell now because of his championships and brings up the great question of, if it's all about championships, how come we don't talk about guys like Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey or John Havlicek who all have multiple rings?
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