Many players have said this 2020 title is the toughest championship in NBA history since there were no fans in attendance and the Lakers and Heat have been stuck in the bubble since July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, all things considered, James' second title with the Heat in 2013 and third ring in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers were way more difficult than this bubble trophy with the Lakers.
2013 NBA Finals
LeBron and the Heat needed seven games to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. Miami also required a little bit of luck, as Ray Allen hit one of the biggest and toughest shots in NBA history in Game 6 with 5.2 seconds left in regulation.
Chris Bosh grabbed an offensive rebound off of a James missed 3-pointer and found Allen in the right corner with the Heat down three. The sharpshooter splashed home the 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, but many people forget that the Spurs choked at the end of Game 6 with missed free-throws to keep the Heat alive.
In Game 7 against the Spurs, LeBron made sure no miracles were needed for the Heat to take out San Antonio for good. James put up 37 points, 12 rebounds and four assists to capture his second straight title and second-straight Finals MVP Award.
Defeating Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich in the Finals is no easy task, but James came through in the clutch for Miami and firmly established himself as an all-time great with his Game 7 performance.
2016 NBA Finals
LeBron James' title in 2016 with the Cavs, though, was the most difficult and memorable ring for The King. Not only was he facing a Golden State Warriors team which had the MVP in Stephen Curry and the best regular-season record in NBA history at 73-9, but the Cavs also fell down 3-1 to the Dubs and it appeared Curry was on the verge of winning back-to-back titles over LeBron.
In Game 5 against the Warriors at Oracle Arena, the Dubs were prepared to finish off their historic season with a ring. Even though Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 due to his antics in Game 4 with LeBron, most pundits had the Warriors taking the contest since they were virtually unbeatable at home.
However, James and Kyrie Irving had different plans that night. LeBron poured in 41 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Irving finished with 41 points, three boards and six dimes. The Cavs won Game 5 by a final score of 112-97, with Game 6 set to be back in Cleveland.
In Game 6 in front of his hometown fans, James went off for 41 points again. He even had a monster block on Curry and started trash-talking the two-time MVP. The Cavs won 115-101 and suddenly, all the pressure was on the Warriors to win the ring.
If you ask coaches, execs or even players for that matter, LeBron is the one guy everyone wants on their team during a do-or-die Game 7. The Chosen One already showed in Game 7 of the 2013 Finals against the Spurs he's built for pressure games and James wasn't about to let this golden opportunity of bringing a championship back home go to waste.
Game 7 of the 2016 Finals is one for the ages. While he only shot 37.5 percent from the field, James had 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and arguably the greatest block in NBA Finals history on Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala. LeBron's block set up Irving to hit the game-winning shot over Curry from the right-wing and then Kevin Love had a huge stop on Curry moments later.
Once the Cavs won the game by a final score of 93-89, James was very emotional. He had finally brought a title to his hometown and famously screamed, “Cleveland, this is for you!” to the cameras.
James, Irving and the Cavs became the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals. It may never be done again either since teams are more aware of choke jobs after the Warriors' collapse.
What James did was incredible for so many reasons, but beating a 73-9 Warriors team and bringing a championship to a Cavs organization that had never won anything in franchise history cemented his place on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA greats.
While LeBron James has closed the GOAT gap between him and Michael Jordan with his fourth title and first with the Lakers, his ring with the Cavs will always be the most memorable one considering all the obstacles he faced and the team he took out after trailing 3-1.