This was not the ending neither he nor the Cavs' fans deserved, not after the finest four years this organization will ever enjoy, courtesy of him. But it was the harsh ending they got, nonetheless.
James' Cavs, again, this might be the last time we can say that, were blown out in Game 4 of the Finals by the Warriors, 108-85, for a four-game sweep. Golden State is NBA champs for the third time in four years, all against Cleveland, and celebrated at The Q for the second time.
The King, born in Akron, drafted No. 1 overall by the Cavs in 2003, left them in 2010 and returned in 2014, can be a free agent at season's end.
After four years, four Finals, and won glorious championship in 2016, he is expected to take a good, long look at his options.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue removed James with 4:03 to go, replacing him with rookie Cedi Osman. The crowd took a while to find its feet, but eventually serenaded him with one more "MVP" chant, for old time's sake.
James finished with 23 points, seven boards and eight assists on 7-of-13 shooting. He committed six turnovers.
Kevin Durant, who finished with a triple double of 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in Game 4, was named Finals MVP for the second consecutive year. Stephen Curry scored 37 points.
This is the Warriors' sixth title in franchise history, and with their core of Curry, Durant (the hero in Game 3), Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, it's hard to see that coming to an end.
On Thursday, James said that's what players, coaches, and executives around the league is trying to figure out right now — how to amass enough talent and basketball IQ to beat them.
For two years now, there wasn't nearly enough of it in Cleveland. The Warriors went 8-1 against the Cavs in the last two Finals.
The Cavs were the last team to be swept in the Finals, back in 2007 by the Spurs. James is now 3-6 all time in the Finals.
James averaged 34 points in the 2018 Finals with 8.5 boards and 10 assists. His 34 ppg average in the playoffs was the second-highest of his career. His 27.5 ppg during the regular season was his highest scoring average since — you're not going to like this, Cleveland — 2009-10, his last season before bolting for Miami. He set a career high with 9.1 assists and tied one with 8.6 rebounds per game.
James played in every game for Cleveland — 82 in the regular season (something he'd never done before) and 22 in the playoffs.
Kevin Love added 13 points and nine boards, but shot 4-of-13. JR Smith scored 10 points, and with his first 3 passed Derek Fisher (285 3s) for eighth place on the NBA's all-time playoff 3-point list.
Rodney Hood added 10 points. Kyle Korver was 0-of-6 shooting; George Hill, 1-of-7, Jeff Green, 2-of-8.
Klay Thompson scored 10 points for the Warriors and Draymond Green contributed nine points and nine assists. Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, scored 11 points.
The Warriors led by as many as 11 in the first quarter and were ahead 34-25 when it was over. They made six 3s with two from Curry, who raced out to 12 points. Curry was up to 20 by halftime, thanks to his 3-ball with five seconds left for a 61-52 advantage.
Cleveland's Jeff Green responded by shooting a 3 that hit the backboard on the other side of the rim. Thing is, the Cavs actually hung in there for much of the second quarter, and even led 43-42 on James' tough runner with 5:49 left.
The game effectively ended in the third quarter. The Cavs scored 13 points, shot 4-of-17, committed five turnovers and trailed by 21.