Never mind becoming the next Michael Jordan. LeBron James is already the new Tim Tebow, the latest Brett Favre. James is already a source of endless speculation among the television pundits, even though he cannot opt out of his Miami contract until after next season.

Does he stay estranged from the fans he jilted in Cleveland, or become engaged anew with them in a quest for a championship that would absolve him of his original sin?

Like James' leaving, his return probably will come down to what is best for him. He valued expediency over image without a second thought before, then bragged on a commercial about stacking teams all the way back to high school. Based on that attitude, given his fondness for teams that were dynasties when he was a boy such as the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, I called him a front-runner.

Now that he is the best player in the world, and nobody else is all that close, that isn't the case. In 2011-12, he was the Most Valuable Player of the regular season, the third such honor in his career; and of the Finals, the first.

Still, the Cavaliers had better have a fine-tuned, competitive vehicle with roomy salary cap space available for him. James is certain to be looking for a new team in the summer of 2014 because, while collusion can bring together the players for a "super team," the new financial rules make it impossible to keep the dynasties together.

James did not turn out to be Dwight Howard, disruptive in Orlando and ill-fitting with the Lakers, although the former Cavalier seemed that way at first in Miami. But James grew into a player of substance, not just one of style. He met the moment and mastered it in the last playoffs, rather than the other way around.