Kevin Durant called the recent praise directed his way by Miami Heat star LeBron James "flattering."

"He's one of those guys who takes on the challenge, and I'm looking forward to going up against him," Durant said ahead of Wednesday night's game against the Heat (7, ESPN).

But the Oklahoma City Thunder star also said his motivation to succeed in the NBA doesn't stem from trying to outdo the four-time league MVP.

"To be honest, I'm going to be totally real, like, I don't go in every day, when I go into the gym and work on my game, I don't have a LeBron picture [on the ball], or I don't have his name in my mind when I'm going in there and working," Durant said. "It's all about trying to get better for myself. And I know how I feel about myself. I know the confidence I have in myself, but also I want to compete against the best, and I want to go out there and prove myself against the best."

Both James and Durant believe they will spend significant time guarding each other Wednesday night. Durant is averaging 36 points over his last 11 games, and James also has been hot, in the midst of his best 10-game scoring streak of the season, in which he's averaged 28.4 points.

"He's one of the toughest covers, between him and [Carmelo Anthony], those are the toughest covers for me individually," James said. "It's a game within a game. You want to win but you also want to win your own matchup. I like going against the best. I wish I could go against him every night."

Said Durant: "Everybody wants to see the one-on-one matchup. I know that's the big thing. But we're going to match up together, so I'm sure you guys are going to get what you want. But at the end of the day, it's all about the Thunder versus the Heat, and it's going to be fun playing against them."

urant doesn't have a reputation as a strong defensive player, but he's been determined to change that with his play recently.

The Thunder have developed into one of the league's top teams. While forward Serge Ibaka is generally recognized as their best defender, Durant believes he has improved and looks forward to matchups against James to show it.

"I'm a two-way player; that is how I look at it," Durant said Wednesday. "I play both ends of the floor, whether you think so or not. Ask my coaches or my teammates, they rely on me on the defensive end. If you want to be a good player, you have to do it on both ends, and I've realized that over the last few years. And I think I'm doing a better job on the defensive end."

James, third in the league with an average of 26.0 points per game, is the two-time defending MVP. But his run with the hardware could be ended by Durant, who is averaging a league-best 31.3 points and has thrived even without Russell Westbrook, who has missed 21 games due to an ailing knee.