According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, the Cavs had an inkling a few months after winning the title that James was destined to join the Lakers during the 2018 offseason.
LeBron helped lead the Cavaliers to two more NBA Finals appearances before leaving, but they were beaten by the Golden State Warriors each time.
Per Lloyd, a key factor in Irving's desire to be traded was the fact that he didn't want to be left with a shell of a team around him if James decided to sign with the Lakers.
The Cavs' fears came to fruition, and they are an NBA-worst 2-14 this season with LeBron out of the picture.
James returned to Cleveland on Wednesday for the first time since leaving in free agency.
The Lakers defeated the Cavaliers 109-105, and LeBron was greeted warmly by the fans at Quicken Loans Arena, unlike the first time after he left for the Miami Heat in 2010.
With James in the fold, the Lakers are seventh in the Western Conference at 10-7 and in position for their first playoff berth since the 2012-13 campaign.