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."

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." (Associated Press)

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