James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, will lead defending champion Miami into the best-of-seven showdown with the veteran Spurs, who won four titles from 1999 through 2007 but have not returned to the Finals since.
“They have got a bunch of Hall of Famers, so I look forward to the challenge,” James said. “This is an opportunity for us again to be able to win a championship. I have a lot of work to still do, but it’s a great thing to be in this position.”
James, likely destined for the Basketball Hall of Fame himself, first reached the NBA Finals with Cleveland in 2007, when the Spurs swept the Cavaliers to claim the crown.
Three years later, James took his talents to Miami to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and the Heat have reached the NBA Finals ever since, losing to Dallas in 2011 before beating Oklahoma City last year to give “King” James his first NBA crown.
The Spurs have not sat on their laurels either, although they will have been off 10 days before the opener since sweeping Memphis in the Western Conference final while Indiana took the Heat to seven games in the East final.
The Heat went a league-best 66-16 this season to earn a home-court edge, including a 27-game win streak, the second-longest in NBA history. The Spurs went 58-24.
Miami boasts James, Wade and Bosh while the Spurs are led by Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, a three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player who averaged 17.8 points and 9.9 rebounds a game.