It would have been a storybook tale for LeBron James last year.

The Miami Heat were the team to beat heading into the NBA Playoffs. Once they made it to the Finals, it looked like an easy match-up for the Heat as they faced the Dallas Mavericks.

However, the Heat would fall in six games to a surprising upset, thanks to Dirk Nowitzki and company putting on a show.

James says he spent the whole season trying to prove people wrong instead of focusing on his game. After the Finals loss, James went into a two-week depression, not even touching a basketball.

This year, James has become a different man and is back to the dominating player he used to be, which led to his third MVP victory this year. James also changed how he played, attacking the rim instead of settling for jumpers.

With that, the Heat were able to make it to the Finals once again, with James proving people wrong without trying to after scares from the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics in the playoffs. Now being the underdog again like he was as a Cleveland Cavalier versus the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, James is looking to capitalize off his past disappointments.

"I'm just at ease now," James said. "I'm happy and I'm humbled that I can actually be back in this position less than 12 months later and to do a better job of making more plays on a bigger stage. So we'll see what happens."

The Heat will face the Oklahoma City Thunder for Game 1 on Tuesday night. James will be compared a lot to Kevin Durant, as both are easily the best two players in the game. James, a three-time MVP and Durant, a three-time scoring-champ.

"At the end of the day in this series I'm going to play my game and try to do whatever it takes on both ends and make plays," James said at Cheasapeake Energy Arena. "Whatever the results, I'm going to be satisfied with that. I'm going to be happy with it because I know I'm going to give it my all."

James hid from the spotlight against the Mavericks, failing to produce when it mattered most. Against the Thunder, he is going to give it all he has.

"I didn't play well. I didn't make enough game-changing plays that I know I'm capable of making," James said. "I felt like I let my teammates down."

Then came James' disaster against the Spurs in the Finals, shooting 36-percent which led to a sweep.

"I was young and inexperienced and we had an inexperienced team," James said of 2007. "The San Antonio team did what they wanted."

James has made himself the leader of the team now, and it shows. When Dwyane Wade struggled, James took control and led the Heat to victory, even with Chris Bosh out.

Now as the underdog and everyone doubting, it's the perfect scenario for LeBron to win his first ring. The Thunder have shown they are the better team. However, once with a matured and focused LeBron now, this is James' to win.

It's all on him now.

Can he do it?

Josh Dhani is the founder of FootBasket. He is also the editor of The Dugout Doctors and contributes at Hoops Authority and Eight Points Nine Seconds. You can read more about him at his website. Follow him on Twitter @joshdhani.


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