Has LeBron peaked?

Numbers say an average player would be on the decline, but James is not average

Updated: September 28, 2012, 1:41 PM ET
By Chris Broussard | ESPN the Magazine
USATimothy A. Clary/Getty ImagesTake a seat Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, LeBron James is No. 1 and shows no signs of slowing down.

It didn't seem like it at the time, but the pain and embarrassment LeBron James suffered in his 2010 NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks was a basketball blessing cloaked in heartache.

Humbled -- and the butt of jokes -- James looked within and without to find the answers. He made a conscious decision to shoot fewer 3s and worked with Hakeem Olajuwon to improve in the post, a place where he despised playing over the first eight years of his career.

Obviously, the answers came. Last season, James put together one of the most productive and awe-inspiring runs in recent memory, winning his third regular-season MVP award, his first NBA title and the NBA Finals MVP -- all before topping it off with terrific play in leading Team USA to an Olympic gold medal.

Now, the inevitable question: Has LeBron James "the champion" finally arrived, or has LeBron James merely saved face? And has he possibly reached his peak?