James, playing all 48 minutes in what was his 100th game in a row this season, pushed the Cavs to a fourth consecutive NBA Finals with 35 points in Cleveland's 87-79 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
James scored 46 in Game 6 on Friday at The Q to set up Sunday night's showdown in Boston.
"The best," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.
"It's what's been asked of me," James said.
James joins Celtics greats Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn and Frank Ramsey as the only NBA players to play in at least eight consecutive Finals.
James finished with 15 rebounds (a 2018 playoff season high) and nine assists, with two blocks, eight turnovers and a 12-of-24 shooting night. He's 6-2 all time in Game 7s, and has won six straight.
"Those are things, like I said, when you're done playing the game, you can only dream and wish that you could be a part of that once again," James said, when asked about going to eight straight Finals and nine overall. "I haven't really processed the fact about going back to another Finals yet. I know that's where we're headed.
"I commend my teammates and my coaching staff and everybody that put the work in, even some of our staff that is not in the limelight, behind the scenes. This was a complete team effort."
The Cavs won at TD Garden for the only time this series, becoming the fifth team in history to win its only game on the road in a series in Game 7. The Celtics lost for the only time at home this entire postseason; they were 10-0. This is also the first time Boston has ever blown a series in which it led 2-0 (the Celtics were 37-0).
Cleveland did it without Kevin Love, who missed the game with a concussion. Jeff Green, a former Celtic, started in his place and posted 19 points and eight rebounds -- both 2018 playoff highs. JR Smith added 12 points and Tristan Thompson chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.
"Everybody doubted us," said Green, a 2007 first-round pick by the Celtics. "Everybody had their opinions on what our team was, what we would do, what we can't do, from the start.
"And to be at this point where we are now, going to The Finals, for me, it's a blessing. It shows the hard work, the team that we have, , how hard we've worked to prove everybody wrong, prove the doubters wrong."
Rookie Jayson Tatum (his future is so bright) led the Celtics with 24 points. Al Horford scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half. Jaylen Brown added 13 points and Marcus Morris scored 14 off the bench.
The Cavs, who were ranked 29th in defense during the regular season, were brilliant at that end (79 points were easily the fewest they've allowed in the playoffs). They also benefited from poor Boston shooting. The Celtics shot .341 from the field and 7-of-39 from 3-point range.
Terry Rozier shot 2-of-14 and missed all 10 3-pointers. Marcus Smart was 1-of-10.
The Celtics were 23-8 all time in Game 7s -- the best record in NBA history. They were also missing their two best players this series, as former Cavalier Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were out with season-ending injuries.
"It's definitely tough, but we have nothing to hang our heads about," Horford said.
The Cavs, well, they don't feel bad for those guys. It's been one hell of a ride already. Losing Love for Game 7 was just the latest hurdle they had to clear.
Cleveland entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed and has now won two Game 7s to get back to the Finals. The other was over the Pacers in the first round.
James scored 12 points in the fourth. Remember, that was without rest. His layup while being fouled (on a goaltend) and free throw with 1:04 to go made it 84-74. Ball game.
The Cavs only received five points from their bench, committed 13 turnovers, and shot 9-of-35 from 3.
The Cavs were 1-of-9 from 3-point in the first quarter and trailed 26-18 at the end of it. The Celtics closed the quarter on a 9-0 run. James scored 12 points with five boards in the period; his teammates were 2-of-9 shooting.
Cleveland went nearly four minutes without a bucket in the second quarter and trailed 35-23. Shoulders were sagging on the Cavs' side. But somehow, despite seven first-half turnovers and an atrocious 4-of-17 shooting from 3-point range, they roared back to within one. Boston's poor chucking of its own surely had something to do with it.
James was called for an offensive foul when he appeared (at first glance) to elbow Marcus Smart in the face on his way to a layup. The basket would've given Cleveland a 41-40 lead with 38 seconds left. Instead, Brown knocked down a 3 and the Celtics led 43-39 at halftime.
"Our defense was pretty good, and sooner or later were going to make (shots), and I thought the players did a great job adjusting," Lue said.
Green drained a 3 with 4:56 left in the third quarter to give Cleveland a 53-51 lead. It was the Cavs' first in the second half of any game at TD Garden in this series, and just the second lead change in the second half for the entire season. The Celtics were held to just 13 points in the quarter and missed all seven 3s. James' 3-ball with 37 seconds left in the quarter made it 59-56 Cavs headed to the fourth.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is at 9 p.m. Thursday in either Oakland, Calif., against Golden State, or at Houston. Game 7 of the Warriors-Rockets Western Conference final is Monday night.
If Golden State wins, it would mark the fourth straight year the Warriors and Cavs have played in the NBA Finals.