LeBron James hopes third time is lucky

LeBron James has been brilliant in the NBA finals, but the three-time league MVP says he even though the Miami Heat are one win away from a NBA title he can't afford any feelings of smugness.

"This is my third crack at it," said James who is in his ninth season in the NBA. " 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. And like I said, win, lose or draw, I'm giving my all, and I'm going to be happy. I'll be satisfied with that."

James, who is in his ninth NBA season, said there is still more work to do so he's not taking anything for granted.

"My job is not done," James said. "I have been very focussed and I am determined for us to play at a high level."

The Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-98 Tuesday to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the best-of-seven series. Game five is Thursday in Miami.

All series long, James and the Thunder's Kevin Durant, two of the league's biggest names, have gone head-to-head on the floor with James getting the edge on his superstar rival, who led the league in scoring this season.

"I'm a historian of the game and I love the history of the game, so coming into this series, this reminded me of the '91 finals of the Bulls and the Lakers," said James at Wednesday's practice.

"The whole world was so excited to finally see Michael Jordan versus Magic Johnson in the finals.

"They didn't really care about the Lakers and the Bulls going against one another, it was all about Magic and Jordan.

"That's what it was about coming into this series. You know, everyone was excited to finally get an opportunity to see two of the best players go head to head, myself and KD, but for me personally, it's not a head-to-head battle.

"When I go out on the floor, I do want to dominate the guy in front of me. But this is a team game.

"I really don't get involved in the head-to-head battle as far as outside the lines of the basketball court."

There was a uncharacteristic moment of humility from James Wednesday as he spoke during practice at the American Airlines Arena.

This is the same person who was cast as the NBA's resident villain when he decided to spurn his hometown of Cleveland and announce he was signing with the Heat on a nationally televised "Decision" that reeked of hubris and narcissism.

"Last year after game six, after losing once again, I was very frustrated. I was very hurt that I let my teammates down, and I was very immature," James said of the 2011 finals loss in six games to the Dallas Mavericks.

"Last year 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 and why I fell in love with the game.

"So I was very immature last year after game six towards you guys (reporters) and towards everyone that was watching.

"One thing I have learned, and someone taught me this, is the greatest teacher you can have in life is experience.

"I have experienced some things. I am happy I am able to be in this position and be back on this stage where I can do things so that I can make this team proud."