LeBron James is widely regarded as the greatest small forward to have ever lived, and the most impactful superstar of his era. What LeBron James had done on and off the court is truly iconic, and his career will likely never be equaled again. In his 18th NBA season, James has a host of individual accolades and achievements that will stand the test of time.
But which version of LeBron James was the best? After all, LeBron James has played for 3 NBA franchises to this date and has won an NBA title with each one. LeBron's greatness as a playmaker and scorer cannot be denied, but it is time to rank each version of The King with each of his three franchises.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
1 NBA Title, 1 Finals MVP, 3 All-Star Teams
26.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 9.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Current Lakers superstar LeBron James is still the best player in the world. Despite joining the Lakers at 34 years old, he was the most impactful player in the league. LeBron missed the playoffs in his first season with the Purple and Gold, with the inability to lead the likes of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle to the postseason.
His second season was a massive success, as he was able to guide the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals alongside Anthony Davis. LeBron led the NBA in assists at 10.2 APG, and with The King making the most of a pandemic-shortened season, he won Finals MVP and the NBA title with the Lakers. At age 35, it was The King's time to rule again.
As great as The King is right now, LeBron is clearly past his prime with Los Angeles and that is the reason he was a better player during his other two stints with his two other teams.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
1 NBA Title, 1 Finals MVP, 2 MVPs, 10 All-Star Teams
27.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG
LeBron came into the league wearing #23 and that is the number most synonymous with his greatness as a part of his two stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron's first stint with the Cavs was truly amazing following the 2003 NBA Draft. He came into the league a young man and was already one of the best players in the world. He was an athletic freak, and could not be stopped when he attacked the rim. That is why he captured Rookie of the Year in his first season, averaging 20.9 PPG and 5.9 APG.
It wasn't long before he carried the Cavs to the NBA Finals, only to lose to the Spurs in four games in 2007. LeBron would later win 2 MVP Awards in 2009 and 2010, although he would not make the Finals again until he left for Miami 2 years later.
After returning back from Miami four seasons later to join Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love with the Cavs, James would make history. After losing to the Warriors in the 2015 Finals thanks to injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, he managed to snag the 2016 NBA title for the Cavaliers and make history for his city. Despite falling to a 3-1 deficit, LeBron put his superhero cape on and led the Cavs to 3 straight wins to capture an NBA title and NBA Finals MVP. As iconic as this championship was, LeBron was at his best with the Heat.
1. Miami Heat
2 NBA Titles, 2 Finals MVPs, 2 MVPs, 4 All-Star Teams
26.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG
The Miami Heat version of LeBron James was the best we have seen. He was at his peak when you look at his physical and mental prowess. While he wasn't as young and spry as he was in his younger days with the Cavs, he was much stronger and much more dominant on the floor. He was truly a freak of nature and the most unstoppable player in the league when he got to the Heat.
LeBron, wearing the #6 on his back, had four total seasons with the Heat, averaging 26.9 PPG and making the All-NBA team each year. During that time, he also managed a whopping .683 win/loss percentage which is a testament to his greatness as a player. Of course, James had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh by his side, but it was The King that was the driving force of his team.
It was also his stint in Miami where he finally learned how to tune out the media noise and captured his first two NBA titles. Despite making the Finals the first year of his stint with Miami, he fell to Dallas before defeating the Thunder and Spurs for two consecutive titles. This was a massive moment for LeBron, as he finally cemented himself as one of the top ten players we had ever seen.
James also captured the MVPs in 2012 and 2013, the same years he won the NBA titles. In terms of individual achievements, team success, and the aspect of becoming a leader; King James was at his best with the Miami Heat.