Nobody has ever had more pressure than the Miami Heat's LeBron James had this year to win an NBA championship.
The combination of self-, media- and fan-inflicted pressure weighed heavily on LeBron after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2010-11 NBA Finals.
I, and many NBA fans, lost a lot of respect for LeBron James after his abysmal performance in the finals. There was no excuse after his "not one, not two, not three..." proclamation to the world. He didn't let the court of public opinion determine where he fit into the NBA elite, but rather put himself at the top, choosing to tattoo the "Chosen One" onto his back rather than let others make that decision.
The man is a freak of nature. Rarely (if ever) has his combination of strength and speed ever graced the basketball court before. His size, strength and speed have already been validated on the basketball court.
And for as arrogant as he was prior to the loss to Dallas, he was humbled after the loss.
For the first time in his career, he lost that entitlement. LeBron said himself: "The loss to Dallas was the best thing that happened to me."
That is exactly why LeBron will come back better than ever in the 2012-13. His season this year backed that up and now he has the ring off his mind.
He played like the best player in the world. The results?
It started with an MVP regular season and continued on into the postseason. With impressive (and clutch) performances in the playoffs against the Pacers, Celtics and Thunder, LeBron paved his way to the top. He remained calm when falling 2-1 to the Pacers, facing elimination against the Celtics and losing Game 1 to Oklahoma City.
Not only that—he shined.
He's playing for all the right reasons now. He quieted Mario Chalmers in Game 5 of the finals when the young point guard was getting overconfident. James has been there and done that. The results weren't pretty.
LeBron James has been aptly compared to Tiger Woods—a star in another sport who also has talent through the roof. Woods had also been dimmed by controversy and, like James, had gone from loved to hated in a matter of days. Tiger may not recover from his debacle.
LeBron has suffered for his mistakes, but he has changed as a person in all of the right ways.
And in a land of second chances, he will not make the same mistake again. He has gone from the top to "rock bottom" and now back to the top.
After achieving his ultimate goal, he can enjoy more climbs with the experience and knowledge that comes with the new jewelry and new attitude.
Watch out, NBA, the real King has come.