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

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?