Miami Heat's LeBron James Is a Lock to Make NBA History This Year

Thomas KellyContributor IIIMarch 10, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference attempts a shot during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It is fair to say that LeBron James is not the type of superstar that some basketball fans want him to be.

He is often criticized for his reluctance to finish close games, or to take the last shot like a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. He has been prone to tighten up and make questionable late game decisions.

The other week, he choose to take the inbound pass on the last play of the All-Star game instead of taking the last shot. Last year, he reluctantly stood in the corner the last few minutes of an NBA Finals Game.

His play became a basketball metaphor of "Hot Potato" as he turned into the "Frozen One," seemingly passing the ball away as quickly as it came to him.

Despite the criticism, here are five names: Bird, Magic, Kareem, Russell and Wilt. What do all these legendary, NBA icons have in common?

Well, first they all were Lakers and Celtics at some point.

Second (Here is where James comes in), they are the only five NBA players to win three MVP titles in a four-year span. LeBron is all but a formality to join that legendary group at the conclusion of this year.

He won the MVP title in 2009 and 2010. No one has ever won four-straight MVP titles, and if it wasn't for an incredible run by Derrick Rose last year and a general public disapproval of his move to Miami last year, he might have been the very first to do so.

For all the criticism he has taken, this is a very impressive feat that puts James in legendary company. It's easy to forget that LeBron won two MVP titles by the time he was 25 years old.

He is essentially a lock to win his third MVP title this year because he is dominating statistically and playing at a record level of efficiency. His PER rating of 32.7 this year is a notch ahead for Wilt Chamberlain for the best season all-time.

Yes, all-time.

LeBron is putting up incredible clips of 27.7 PPG/8.4 RPG/6.7 APG while also shooting 55 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. Rather than settling for three-pointers and deferring to Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, he is taking control of the offense and attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line.

On the defensive end, LeBron can guard almost every position.

LeBron playing at an MVP level much like he did in Cleveland is a scary thought for the rest of the league. Especially since he has a supporting cast that includes two premier players: Wade and Bosh.

The Heat currently sit at 31-9, second only to Chicago at 34-9 for the best record in the NBA.