LeBron on his game: 'This is probably the best I've been'

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CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James listened to a question he's been asked in the past and began processing.

On the eve of his fifth consecutive NBA Finals, the four-time league MVP who has carried the Cavaliers within four wins of a championship in his homecoming season, James appears to be playing the best ball of his life.

Others have said so, some insisting they've never seen anyone - at least no one this side of Michael Jordan - perform at such a high level.

James has been magnificent in these playoffs. Clutch. Focused. Confident.

But does the 30-year-old believe he's at the pinnacle of his 12-year career.

"I think if you put it all together, yeah," he said. "If you put everything together as far as my mind, my body, my game. If you put everything in one bottle, this is probably the best I've been."

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LeBron on his game: 'This is probably the best I've been'
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) speaks with referee Bill Spooner during the first half in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James embraces a teammate after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Atlanta. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 94-82. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) questions a call during the second half in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks Sunday, May 24, 2015, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 114-111. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James reacts on the sidelines late in the second half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks, Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the lane against Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) in the second half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference Finals, Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Alan Anderson #6 of the Brooklyn Nets during their game at Barclays Center on December 8, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on December 8, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Cavaliers defeated the Nets 110-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 12: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers makes a shot over Luke Babbitt #8 of the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on December 12, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 21: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Quicken Loans Arena on December 21, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on December 23, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: Kevin Love #0 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers react after a play in the first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Quicken Loans Arena on December 23, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 and Mike Miller #18 of the Cleveland Cavaliers high-five during a game against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat converse during a game at the American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands on the court against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic's Tobias Harris, right, defends against the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 26: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots the ball against the Orlando Magic during the game on December 26, 2014 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 28: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers defends against the Detroit Pistons during the game on December 28, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 28: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game against the Detroit Pistons on December 28, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, left, lays in a shot against New Orleans Pelicans' Ryan Anderson in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, in Cleveland. James' 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists lead the Cavaliers to a 118-111 win. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes for the dunk against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to pass during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives down the court against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dribbles to the basket against Eric Gordon #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket against Eric Gordon #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers defends the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers laughs during an interview after the winning game against the New Orleans Pelicans on November 10, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
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King James has spoken.

Although he has jumped higher, scored more, shot for a higher percentage and had bigger statistical games in nine previous postseasons, James has taken his game to new boundaries, the outer limits as he prepares to take on the Golden State Warriors. He's still doing what few can physically match on the floor, but he's also lifting his teammates, inspiring them, making them believe they can end Cleveland's 51-year title drought.

He can still take over a game, and he can get inside it.

Through words and actions, James has pushed the Cavs past postseason injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, the other members of Cleveland's Big 3, who haven't pulled their weight in the postseason. James has picked up the slack with more rebounds, and by playing point guard.

He's brought out the best in sharpshooter J.R. Smith and made reserves like Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova embrace their roles. He's even caused David Blatt's critics to pause and reconsider what kind of job Cleveland's first-year coach has done.

James has never been better.

With dedication and hard work, James is exhibiting what he wrote in his letter to Cleveland fans last summer when he said: "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have."

Irving didn't fully understand James' genius until they became teammates. Over the past few months, the All-Star point guard has grown to appreciate No. 23's effect on those around him. Irving marvels at James' photographic memory and uncanny knack for seeing plays unfold before others.

"I became a fan to be honest with you," Irving said. "I told him that. It's a different feeling when you're on a team with someone you've watched for so long. When you get to see him up close and the work that he puts in, the dedication that he has, the drive and the will that he has. The true testament of him is that he embodies a leader and the true testament and the word `team' is embodied with the guys we have. We have so many different personalities, so many different guys, and when you have a leader like that it lifts you up in every situation."

Miami changed him.

During four seasons in South Florida, a period he refers to as his "college years," James learned to be a champion. Playing alongside All-Star Dwyane Wade, James gained a better understanding of the trust necessary to win it all. He had Wade's back and vice versa. They grew into one.

The blistering spotlight, too, hardened James, who mastered the ability to block out external noise.

Before he went to Miami, injuries like the ones to Irving and Love might have unraveled him. These days, they're just more obstacles.

"Even in the past, mentally I just wasn't who I am today," he said. "My mind, my hard drive, wasn't as big. I'm able to handle a lot of situations that I wasn't able to handle at 24 and 25 years old. I just tried to do it by just going out and just playing."

Warriors swingman Shaun Livingston said there's an obvious difference in James (version 2015) and the one he played against in past years.

"He's definitely better," said Livingston. "His time in Miami helped sharpen his mental fortitude. They faced a lot of adversity in Miami with all the scrutiny. I think that's helped him on the court, being more calm and not really playing to the outside but just between the lines."

James has pieced together an amazing body of work in this postseason already. He nearly averaged a triple-double in the Eastern Conference finals, posting 30.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 9.3 assists in the series, the first player to average at least 30 points, 10 boards, and nine assists in a series.

In the previous round, he made a buzzer-beating shot to win Game 4 and followed that with a 38-point, zero-turnover masterpiece in Game 5.

He hasn't been perfect. James missed his first 10 shots in Game 3 against Atlanta before getting a triple-double, and he's been sloppy with the ball. But he's on a mission, and within reach of winning a title that would top any of his many accomplishments.

"I've been watching a lot of playoffs the last six years," Love said, "and I don't know if I've seen him play better than this."

Nobody has.

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