LeBron James: Cleveland fans deserve this

LeBron James and J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate their win over the Toronto Raptors in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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LeBron James and J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate their win over the Toronto Raptors in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Looking back at the seven NBA Finals appearances by James

LeBron James completed his sixth straight NBA Finals on Sunday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 at Oracle Arena.

The Cavs won their first championship and became the first team in NBA Finals history to overcome a 3-1 deficit and the first team since the Washington Bullets beat the Seattle Supersonics 105-99 in 1978 to win Game 7 on the road. The home team is 15-4 in Game 7 in NBA finals history.

“Our fans, they ride or die, no matter what’s been going on,” James said. “No matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs and so on, and all other sports teams, they continue to support us. For us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them.”

James improved to 2-0 in Game 7 in the finals. He was with the Heat when beat the Spurs 95-88 in 2013. No player outside the Boston Celtics dynasty of the late 1950s and 1960s had appeared in six straight finals. In all, this was the seventh appearance for James, who is 3-4 in the finals.

Here’s a recap of the seven:

2007: Spurs 4, Cavaliers 0

James was 22 when he led the Cavs to the finals for the first time. He averaged 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

The Cavs lost the first two games on the road, 85-76 and 103-92, but played the Spurs close at home, losing 75-72 and 83-82. James shot 10 of 30 from the field in Game 4 and 36 percent from the field in the series. There hasn’t been a sweep in the finals since.

“I think we played well,” James said. “We definitely just faced a better team in this series, simple as that.”

2011: Mavericks 4, Heat 2

In his first season in Miami, James led the Heat to the finals. With a chance to take a 2-0 series lead, the Cavs blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 2.

James averaged 17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists. Dallas rallied from a 2-1 deficit, winning the last three games 86-83, 112-103 and 105-95.

“It was a failure in ‘07 when we lost to the Spurs when I was in Cleveland,” James said. “It’s a failure now.”

2012: Heat 4, Thunder 1

James won his first NBA title with a dominant performance against Oklahoma City. He averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists. He was named finals MVP for the first time.

The Heat routed the Thunder 121-106 in Game 5, and James and fellow stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh left the game with three minutes remaining.

“You know, my dream has become a reality now, and it’s the best feeling I ever had,” James said.

2013: Heat 4, Spurs 3

James averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists and earned his second straight Finals MVP honor. In Game 7, a 95-88 victory in Miami, he scored 37 points.

Miami avoided elimination with a 103-100 overtime victory in Game 6. A last-second shot by Ray Allen in the fourth quarter saved them.

“I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason,” James said. “I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and (have) the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I’m at a loss for words.”

2014: Spurs 4, Heat 1

James put up big numbers again — 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game — but the Spurs won four games by 15 points or more.

“We lost one (finals), we won two and we lost another one,” James said. “(We’ll) take 50 percent in four years in championships any day. Obviously, we want to win all of them, but that’s just the nature of the game. Not proud of the way we played (in this series).”

2015: Warriors 4, Cavs 2

In his first season back in Cleveland, James led the Cavs back to the finals, but injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving left them little chance against the Warriors.

James posted his best individual performance in a finals, averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists.

“We ran out of talent,” James said. “We gave everything we had.”

2016: Cavs 4, Warriors 3

James earned MVP honors by averaging 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists. In Game 7, with the game tied at 89-89, James blocked a shot by Andre Iguodala with 1:50 remaining. The Cavs took the lead on a 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving with 53 seconds left. James clinched the victory by making 1 of 2 free throws with 10.6 seconds to go.

“I’m true to the game, and I know what I bring to the table,” James said. “I came back for a reason. I came back to bring a championship to our city. I knew what I was capable of doing. I knew what I learned in the last couple years that I was gone. I knew when I came back I had the right ingredients and the right blueprint to help this franchise get back to a place that we’ve never been. That’s what it was all about.”