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Is LeBron James the best athlete in the world?

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Sport Science: LeBron's court excellence (2:51)

ESPN Sport Science breaks down why Cavaliers forward LeBron James is able to excel at every position on the court. (2:51)

There is little argument that LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world today. But let's take it one step further.

Is King James the best athlete in the world?

While the four-time league MVP tries to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA championship, it's a question we put to those who would know best: pro athletes.

Everyone who responded -- a couple of coaches chimed in too -- conceded that he's at least in the conversation.

Many replied with a resounding yes:

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis: "By far. He's amazing. When I watch him play, I see a guy who can do whatever he wants in his sport. The ones who can do that have to be the best. In any professional sports, it's really hard to make a play. When you have a guy who does it as consistently as he does it, you have to give him credit. He's a beast."

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons: "Best athlete in the world? I don't see anybody else. I'm trying to think of someone better and I really can't. The guy can jump. I've seen the fast-break dunks he has are like Jordan. I heard he played receiver in high school and was unbelievable. I feel he could have gotten a scholarship off that. Overall, it's LeBron James, come on. I can't think of anybody else. If you think of basketball players, all the rest of them are finesse players. He actually has a football build to him. He's a big man."

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams: "He's what, 6-9, 250? He looks like he's slimmed down but to be that big and that naturally strong and to be able to fly through the air and have body control like he does ... that's something we probably haven't seen in a long time. Don't get me wrong, there are athletes we come across, but they don't have the total package like LeBron has. Yeah, I'd pay him that respect to say he is the best athlete I've seen by far."

New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro: "Yeah, I think he is the greatest athlete. I think he can do it all. I just feel like he could translate into every sport. I think he'd be dominant in football. I think he has the hand-eye coordination to play baseball. He'd be good at dodgeball, kickball. If he played soccer, he'd probably be pretty tall, but I feel like he could do that too."

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Dwayne Bowe: "In the entire universe. It's no question. He takes his team to the Finals year after year."

Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings: "Right now? Yes. From 1 to 5, he plays every position. When you watch him, you see that look in his eyes; he's unbelievable. He's in a zone, and it's fun to watch for me, knowing how hard he works and how he can take a team and make everyone on it better. ... LeBron has empowered everybody around him, and he's almost averaging a triple-double in the playoffs."

Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen: "I would say, without a doubt, he's the greatest athlete in the world. He's a football player playing basketball. You know what I'm saying? I still respect guys like Magic Johnson and MJ, but in his prime he's doing things we've never seen. ... You get him in isolation, now he's driving and he opens up the floor. He can drive all the way to the basket or pass. I would say he is the best athlete in the game right now by far. Nobody's better than him in pro sports."

Chicago Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler: "Right now, he's the best. He's the most dominant player in the game right now. The guy can do everything. He could play football. I'm sure he could probably play baseball."

If not James, then who? A few respondents brought up other candidates:

Golfer Jordan Spieth: "I would say yes, but I'd put into that same equation Calvin Johnson and Cam Newton. As an athlete, I feel like Calvin Johnson can do anything. Cam Newton's hands are twice the size of mine; he's a freak athlete. Or Bo Jackson still might be the best."

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr: "Can you find another one? Maybe American Pharoah? (Laughing). No, I think I said when I was a broadcaster with TNT, I think I might have made the comment that he's arguably the best athlete that any of us have ever seen in terms of size and speed and strength. I mean, he's a force. We know that."

New England Patriots running back Travaris Cadet: "I can't say that. ... If you put LeBron on the football field and put him in the hockey rink, pretty much everything works your muscles differently. So I can't sit here and say, 'He's the best athlete in the world.' The same way I can't say, 'Usain Bolt is the best athlete in the world,' because it's track and it's different sports."

Houston Texans wide receiver Cecil Shorts III: "That's tough for me to say he's the best athlete, but you could argue he's the best athlete in the world. His size, his stature. The stuff he's able to do with the ball in his hands. But you've gotta look at other athletes too. ... First person that popped into my head is Usain Bolt. I don't know besides running fast what he can do. There's other good athletes in the NBA. There's good athletes here. J.J. [Watt] is a freak at his size. Best athlete in the world? He [LeBron] might be. Today, he might be."

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins: "I mean, there's a lot of different guys that are the best at what they do. ... He's a freak of nature, but you got J.J. Watt, who no one can stop. So you can't really say that he's the best. There's a lot of people, in their profession, who can't be stopped."

Speaking of Watt, he deflected the question as if he were batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage:

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt: "You're asking an athlete that. I don't know. I'm not a big judger on lists or opinions or anything. That's for the general public. That's for everyone else to decide. I'm an athlete myself, so I'm trying to be the best one I can be. I'll leave that up to you guys. That's what you guys get paid for. I just get paid to play."

Others, while obviously respectful of James' talents, weren't ready to unequivocally place him alone at the top of the heap:

Chicago Sky guard/forward Elena Delle Donne: "Best athlete on earth? I don't know that I can say that. Best basketball player on earth now? Yes, definitely. But there are so many different dominant athletes, and it's hard to compare across sports. ... But LeBron is at the peak of his profession and nobody can stop him; even three or four defenders can't do it. It's impressive to watch a player that dominant, and you know he works so hard. He's doing an amazing job."

ESPN analyst and former NBA coach Hubie Brown: "Now, as far as [comparing his athleticism] against other sports, I would never do that, because that's beyond my ability. But as far as this game, it's just a joy to watch him, because not only is the athleticism at the highest quality ever, but his basketball IQ on top of all that is as good as anybody who has ever played the game."

NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson: "LeBron is amazing. But it's not fair to judge his place in history while he's still playing the game. I can tell you from experience. People have said these things about my career too. Just sit back and enjoy the brilliance. I'm not done. And he's not done either."

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown: "I think he's up there. I think he's top five. He's a crazy freak, explosion, height, weight, genetics. He's just gifted."

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly: "He's a really good athlete. I don't know the whole broad spectrum of all sports, but you look at what he does. He's big, he's strong, he can jump. I watched him play here when they played the Hornets, and he's something special. He's a specimen. Think about what he could do out here. He could play defensive end. He could play anywhere. He's definitely up there. Is he the best? I'm not quite sure.''

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt: "Kenny Britt! No, I'm kidding. I like LeBron. I don't watch sports. I can't say that. I never watch any sports at all. But I know he's definitely a great player. People talk about him all the time. He's always on ESPN and I don't even watch ESPN and even I know that."

John Keim, Mike Rodak, Mike Triplett, Jason Sobel, Jeremy Fowler, Mark Saxon, David Newton, Nick Wagoner, Mike Reiss, Mechelle Voepel, Jesse Rogers, Tania Ganguli, Jeffri Chadiha, Marty Smith, Baxter Holmes and Ethan Sherwood Strauss contributed to this story.