LeBron returns to Cleveland as a champion

USA TODAY Sports

The HEAT look to extend their streak as LeBron makes his return to Cleveland as an NBA Champion.

The Miami HEAT head to Cleveland with the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, and LeBron James returns to his former home for the first time as a Champion.

Shortly after defecting Cleveland via ESPN's infamous primetime special, The Decision, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote a scathing letter directed at James guaranteeing to fans that the Cavs would win an NBA title before him.

Well, that didn't quite happen.

After playing arguably the best basketball of his life in 2012, James received his third NBA MVP honors, won his first NBA title along with a Finals MVP trophy, and added a second Olympic gold medal to his collection.

Since then his image around the league seems to have been restored. He's no longer the villain that many portrayed him to be during his first year in Miami. The ringless jokes have been put to rest, there are less boos in most arenas, and many recognize him as the best player on the planet.

So what's in store for him Wednesday night as he returns to his old stomping grounds?

To the surprise of some, it might actually be a mixed reaction. There's no doubt about it: there is still much hatred for James in northeast Ohio. However, there are also those who would welcome a reunion with James were he to become a free agent in 2014 by opting-out of his current deal with the HEAT.

As for what James expects from Cavs fans, he told Cleveland.com, "It can't get no worse than year one. Can't get no worse than year one. December 2nd, 2010. Can't get no worse than that. So I'll be all right."

While there's plenty of time for speculation and debate on LeBron's next decision, he is focused on one thing, and one thing only, as he told reporters this morning, "We're focused on trying to defend our Championship, and that's it."

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