Given how deep the Warriors are, James is going to have a tough task going through them to get to the Finals again. In his Sports Illustrated essay announcing his return, he said "I always believed I'd return to Cleveland finish my career there". Los Angeles was seen as the most likely location James would end up.
It was all different this time.
Other franchises such as the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers had been making overt public attempts to woo James to their teams, but the long-standing rumour that LeBron was angling to play in Los Angeles - where he owns property and lives most of the year - seems to have bared fruit. While things went dark regarding Space Jam 2 after that announcement, reports started coming out last week indicating that James would release the trailer for the film this summer - specifically, once he announced what team he would play for next.
James and Bryant were Olympic teammates and there has been a perceived rivalry between the pair of alpha males.
But the 33-year-old has interests beyond basketball and the massive Los Angeles market would give him a bigger stage and platform.
The 33-year-old had previously said he wanted to finish his career in OH, and although he's leaving home again, Cleveland fans are more forgiving after he ended the city's 52-year sports championship drought in 2016.
LeBron James is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers.More news: Portugal v Uruguay - Preview and possible lineups
"Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible four seasons", James wrote.
James informed the Cavs on Friday that he was not exercising his $35.6 million option and becoming a free agent.
The next-biggest free agent prize will now be DeMarcus Cousins, who has already heard from the Lakers along with the New Orleans Pelicans since free agency began at the stroke of midnight on Sunday.
The bonanza started Saturday night when Durant chose to sign a two-year, $61.5 million deal with the stay with the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, one where he'll make $30.5 million this season.
Conversely, the Eastern Conference throne is now wide open.
While every team dreams of being ruled by King James, only a few have a legit chance of signing him. LeBron had taken the Cavaliers to four straight NBA Finals, winning a championship in 2016. James helped seal a Game 7 win with a chase-down block of Andre Iguodala, the signature moment of a career that has shown no signs of decay.