LeBron James says he's returning to Cavaliers

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LeBron James says he's returning to Cavaliers
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James waves to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks during a press conference at The University of Akron before the kickoff of his welcome ceremony at InfoCison Stadium at The University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks during a press conference at The University of Akron before the kickoff of his welcome ceremony at InfoCison Stadium at The University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Miami Heat's LeBron James talks with the media during a press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on June 17, 2014, in Miami. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat keeps the ball away from Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat comes on the court after a timeout as his team plays the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts on the bench against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Miami Heat's LeBron James talks with the media during a press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on June 17, 2014, in Miami. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots against Boris Diaw #33 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Boris Diaw #33 of the San Antonio Spurs controls the ball against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat controls the ball as Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs defends during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots over LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during Game Four of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on June 12, 2014. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 10: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots against Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on June 10, 2014.  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 10: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 10, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 05: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat sits on the bench after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with cramps against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LeBron James #6, Mario Chalmers #15 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat return to the court against the San Antonio Spurs during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs defeat the Miami Heat 107-84 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win the NBA Finals Championship, June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs won the best of seven series 4-1. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs embrace after the San Antonio Spurs victory in Game Five and winning the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat speak to the media following a 104-87 loss in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
Chris Bosh, LeBron James and other members of the Miami Heat watch from the bench during the fourt quarter of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, June 15, 2014 in San Antonio,Texas. The Spurs defeat the Miami Heat 107-84 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to win the best of seven series 4-1. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck 
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives into Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat defends Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: LeBron James speaks to his fans in the city of Akron after taking the stage during his Welcome Home Ceremony at Infocision Stadium at the University of Akron on August 8, 2014 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
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By TIM REYNOLDS and TOM WITHERS

CLEVELAND (AP) - LeBron James is going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James told Sports Illustrated Friday that he's decided to go home. It's a move that would have seemed unfathomable four years ago, after the venomous fallout that followed his decision to leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat.

James told SI in a first-person story: "My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now."

He spent his first seven NBA seasons in Cleveland. In four years with the Heat, he went to the NBA Finals four times, winning two championships. And now heads back to Cleveland to see if he can finally deliver on his promise of winning a crown for that title-starved city.

James is from Akron, Ohio, not far from Cleveland.

"Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It's where I walked," James told SI. "It's where I ran. It's where I cried. It's where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I'm their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me.

"I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can."

He left Cleveland being called disloyal, a narcissist, a coward and a quitter - and that was all by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who wrote that infamous letter blasting James for choosing Miami.

And now James will play for Gilbert again.

"I'm not having a press conference or a party," James told SI. "After this, it's time to get to work."

And with that, the "Big 3" era in Miami ends much sooner than the Heat expected.

James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all exercised options in their contracts to become free agents this summer, but the thinking was that they would re-do their deals to give the team financial flexibility in an effort to make upgrades to the roster.

Instead, the game's biggest star is heading back to his roots. Bosh may now leave as well. And the Heat face a decidedly uncertain future, a stunning twist for a franchise that has won the last four Eastern Conference titles.

James doesn't turn 30 until this December, so it's safe to say that he just may be reaching his peak.

And the numbers he's put up in his first 11 NBA seasons already make him a lock for basketball immortality.

He's already 27th all-time in scoring with 23,170 points, and could climb into the top 20 next season. Since he entered the league as the No. 1 overall pick by the Cavaliers in 2003, no one has logged more minutes, scored more points or had a better plus-minus ratio than James. His teams have outscored opponents by a staggering 3,743 points with him on the floor over that span; for comparison's sake, Dwight Howard is No. 2 on that list, with a plus-2,312 ratio.

Only Tony Parker and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs have appeared in more regular-season wins over the last 11 years than James. And he just seems to keep getting better; this past season was his seventh straight year where he posted a career-best in field-goal percentage, shooting just under 57 percent.

LeBron James Returning To Cleveland Cavaliers

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