(via CBS Sports)

Father Time has been kind to LeBron James. He’s the only active player besides Kyle Korver from that legendary 2003 Draft still playing in the NBA, and he hasn’t settled for a lesser role.

Still, we can’t just pretend that he’s not going to turn 35 years old this season and while he’ll still perform at a high level, he may not be the best player in the world right now.

At least, that’s what ESPN seems to think, as, for the first time ever, the King won’t be at the top of their ranking featuring the top 100 players in the NBA.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B24JMGOAx2m/

The 9th edition of the rank has James sitting at the 3rd spot of the table, with James Harden at number 4 and Anthony Davis – the Lakers newest star – at the 5.

James missed 27 games last season and was sidelined with the worst injury of his career, but was still able to put up 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.0 three-pointers per game on 50/33/66 while playing 35.2 minutes a night.

There aren’t many players that could average that kind of stat line for a whole season at least once in their career, let alone during their 16th season in the league.

Still, we just can’t ignore the fact that James gave up on playing defense a couple of years ago, mostly because he just can’t maintain that kind of intensity on both ends of the floor for that long, so he had to choose.

Therefore, we must accept the fact that this is the beginning of the end, as James must step aside and clear the way for the new stars of the league to be deemed the best in the world.

ESPN will reveal their top-2 players on Friday, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard as the only superstars left to be named by their experts.