The Cavaliers don't have a second dynamic playmaker or scorer, and it put the burden on James to do more. With their "B-squad" at the helm, Golden State skidded into the postseason by losing 10 of their final 17 games, but the lessons their backups learned immediately paid dividends in the postseason. Of the Warriors' four superstars, all are under contract, although Durant has an opt-out clause in his.
The engine of the NBA's first true dynasty of this decade, Stephen Curry, has yet to win a Finals MVP award. Draymond Green is nothing short of incredible, and to even argue otherwise requires a willful ignorance. Kevin Durant was spectacular in 2017, and he hit the series' most memorable shot.
By contrast, it was a minor miracle that the Cavaliers made it this far at all.
They went 67-15 on the way to the National Basketball Association title in 2015, matched that record on the way to another title last season and went 73-9 - the best record in league history - in 2016 only to fall short in the finals against Cleveland. The Cavs' roster has turned over twice in the last calendar year alone.
After surviving a rougher-than-usual regular season and beating top-seeded Houston in Game 7 on the road in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors withstood an overtime scare in Game 1 and joined an elite group of teams to win multiple championships in a four-year span.
The Warriors started the third quarter - of which they are indisputable masters - with baskets by Thompson. These playoffs were his personal stress test. Once again, Game 4 was held in LeBron James' house at a packed Quicken Loans Arena.
The 76ers would seem more likely than the Celtics because of flexibility and Irving's presence. But teams can always make moves to clear the money to add someone of James' caliber. Part of his rationale comes from the fact that he spent a lot of time on the bench as a player, and he knew how much more invested he was when he actually got off the pine every once in a while. After dropping a monstrous 51 points in Game 1 of the Finals, James' approach did appear different in Games 2, 3, and 4. He also stepped back and allowed his players to coach during a February win over the lowly Phoenix Suns, sparking hot-take fires around the league from critics saying that the move was disrespectful, that the Warriors should be ashamed.
"The next person who walks up to me and says LeBron James, who is amazing, amazing, is as good as good as Michael Jordan or competes like Michael Jordan, I'm just going to slap the hell out of you right on the spot".
"I pretty much played the last two games with a broken hand". This sort of injury hardly qualifies as an excuse, considering that LeBron doesn't need one.
Right now, Golden State is on another tier and with Durant expected to re-sign with them in weeks and Curry, Thompson, Green and the rest still young and hungry, their reign could last much longer.
Having been on the court shooting for the past four NBA Finals between the two teams, he's responsible for iconic images of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and the heated emotions that the Finals bring out from the biggest stars in the sport.
Successes come in all flavors. Cleveland can only hope he comes back. The Warriors had hidden it away.