LeBron James attends a practice in preparation for Game 5...

LeBron James attends a practice in preparation for Game 5 of the NBA finals. (June 20, 2012) Credit: Getty Images


LeBron James is one win from his first NBA championship and perhaps one leg cramp from being a spectator. But James probably will play through any pain he has in Thursday night's potential closeout game.

The pain he felt after losing in last year's NBA Finals to Dallas is what's driving James today. The MVP has tried to make up for it on the court, and off the court as he's offered some mea culpas for his performance and behavior last year.

James is on the cusp of achieving his lifelong dream. But he seems more comfortable looking back at what's happened than looking ahead at what could happen in Game 5 with the Heat leading these Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder 3-1.

"I haven't even really looked at it as just one game away," James said after practice Wednesday. "As crazy as it sounds, I haven't gotten caught up in it. I won't get caught up in it because I'm not going to let [myself]. Human nature is to automatically think about after we win it, what are we going to do? I'm not there. I won't get there until those zeros hit and I see that we won . . . I'm not going to be comfortable until we seal this thing.

"I have a job to do and my job is not done."

James said his right leg is sore, but he feels better after missing the last 55 seconds of Game 4 with what the Heat called cramping. He has never been this close to a title in his nine-year career.

In 2007, his Cavaliers were swept by the Spurs in the Finals. Last year, the Heat led 2-1, but lost the last three to Dallas when James became the poster child for someone who disappears in the fourth quarter and doesn't handle losing well.

After the Game 6 loss, James made the infamous remark that people who rooted against him now have to go back to their lives and personal problems. He acknowledged Wednesday that he acted immaturely.

"I was very frustrated," James said. "I was very hurt that I let my teammates down and I was very immature. I played to prove people wrong instead of just playing my game, instead of just going out and having fun, and playing a game that I grew up loving.

"I was very immature last year after Game 6 towards you guys and towards everyone that was watching . . . I'm just happy that I'm able to be in this position and be back on this stage where I can do things to make this team proud, make this organization proud and we'll see what happens."

James probably hasn't won back all of the basketball fans who were turned off by "The Decision" and the way he carried himself most of last season. But in this postseason he's trying to say the right things, and, more importantly, James has been clutch on the court.

In the fourth quarter of Game 4, after hurting his leg, James buried a three with 2:51 left that gave Miami the lead for good. He's averaging 30.5 points during these playoffs and 29.3 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the Finals.

"I'm just more comfortable," James said. "I'm more comfortable and just trying to seize an opportunity. This is my third crack at it. First of all, I'm blessed because a lot of people never go to the Finals. Second of all, if they go, they never go back. And this is my third opportunity, so I'm just trying to make the most of it."

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