There's been an effort to inject other players into this conversation.
Still, observers would be silly to overlook how LeBron James and Kevin Durant have continued to elevate their games.
James has made it clear in a number of interviews, including one in his Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year profile, that Durant is the guy driving him to get better, the one whose incremental improvement in so many areas has left him little reason to relax.
“I know there is someone, somewhere, trying to take my spot,” James told Sports Illustrated. “And I know where he is, too. He's in Oklahoma. He's my inspiration because I see the direction he's headed, and it's the same direction I'm headed. I know his mind-set, and he knows mine. It's a collision course. We're driving one another.”
Durant has made it just as clear that James, nearly four years older, is the standard he is seeking to reach and exceed.
James is 7-2 against Durant in the regular season, though that record is warped by Durant's early days with undermanned, inexperienced Seattle and Oklahoma City squads. James won the first Finals round, four games to one, not because Durant was deficient, but because he was simply more dominant.
They trained together again this offseason—for what they called Hell Week 2, according to ESPN—after they teamed to win Olympic gold.
On Christmas, they meet again in Miami. At this stage, who boasts the more impressive skill set?
The following is a five-part process to make that call.