Vilified for both exercising his right to leave Cleveland and for the manner in which he announced the move, James came to Miami for this very thing. It took two years -- one more than many people expected. The change of address didn't come with a change in stature. He remains one of the world's most polarizing and best-paid athletes, with his annual income recently estimated by Forbes to be $53 million.
But apparently, when it comes to James, enormous money and fame is not enough to satisfy everyone. A guy who is already a lock for the Hall of Fame -- and might only be halfway or so through his career -- needed a championship as validation. Now, he's not only a champion, but a three-time MVP with a ring. In fact, on Thursday night, he became the first player since Tim Duncan in 2003 to win both regular-season and Finals MVP in the seam season.
Fairly or unfairly, that was the deal. And that title is now his.
''Perceptions better change, OK?'' Heat forward Mike Miller said before Game 5. ''You would be looking at a three-time MVP and a world champion. There's a very, very, very, very, very short list of those. A very short list. The way I've seen him improve in just the two years I've been around him, I've seen the maturation the whole time, and it's a scary thought because it's not going to stop. It's a freight train right now.''
James is 27 years old. Michael Jordan was 28 when he won the first of his six championships.
Which raises one question that might just scare a few people around the NBA: Could this just be the start of what James is going to accomplish?
''I see LeBron James,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. ''I see the best and most dominant player in the game.''
Most talked-about as well.
He regretted lashing out at a question about critics posed not long after last season's Finals ended, one where he answered by saying ''I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things I want to do.'' That criticism was deserved. But some is just silly. He even takes heat for his hairline.
With James, nothing is off-limits for critiquing.