As a high school prodigy, he welcomed the hype and the fame. As Ohio's native son, he took the hometown team to new heights, before slamming the door in their faces on his way south. He thought it would be easy. But the pressure, both on the court and off it, seemed to wear on him.
After a year of redemption, LeBron James finally is an NBA champion.
The Miami Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship with a 121-106 win over the Thunder in Game 5 on Thursday night in Miami.
James capped the greatest moment of his career with an all-time Finals performance, recording a triple-double with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. As for the rest of the Big Three, Chris Bosh, quietly had 24 points and seven rebounds, while Dwyane Wade had 20 points and eight rebounds. They came together to win a championship, and they did it.
For the Thunder, they marched to the Finals on one of the best runs in recent memory, taking down the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs. But the Finals experience of the Heat proved to be too much in the big moments, and there was no fight left in the second half on Thursday night.
Kevin Durant finished with 32 points, while Russell Westbrook had 19. The Thunder struggled all night, but were within seven points in the third quarter. However, the Heat had too much. A 16-1 run turned the game into a clinic, and the rest of the night was about people accepting the fact that James had reached the pinnacle.
On the road to becoming a champion, you usually have to have some heartbreak. The Bad Boy Pistons had to lose to the Celtics and Lakers. Michael Jordan and the Bulls had to lose to those Pistons. The Heat had to lose to the Mavs last year.
The second-youngest starting five in Finals history will be back. They have lost to the eventual NBA champion in each of the past three years, getting a step farther each season. The future is bright for OKC. Thursday night was about the greatest player of his generation getting what he earned.