For a fleeting moment he was the hero.

He was the calm, clutch 23-year-old All-Star who had not only drained a prayer of a 3-pointer to force overtime, but the one who stepped to the free throw line late in overtime and hit three straight to give the Indiana Pacers an improbable one-point lead.

Paul George was scripting his own playoff legend, and doing so right in front of the man who wrote the franchise’s book on stealing the show in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

Even Reggie Miller had to be impressed with these theatrics.

But then — so suddenly — George’s moment was gone.

And when it was snatched from him, he corralled the basketball in disgust, staring at nothing in particular, piecing together a 2.2-second span in which LeBron James caught the ball, zipped right past him and won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals for the Miami Heat in one fell swoop.

One moment, George was the hero.

The next, like everyone else on the court, he was left in James’ wake.

His monstrous 3-pointer? His clutch free throws? Gone. Erased. Bested by James’ game-winner.

On this night, it was a hard lesson to swallow. And it was a loss, he said later, that will be harder to take than any since he entered the league three years ago.

“I slipped up, I just slipped up at the end,” a sullen George said after the Heat’s 103-102 victory Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena. “To have an opportunity to take the first game and be in the lead of the series ... and not being able to do it because of the last possession ... it hurts.”

George’s night had seesawed to that point. For much of the evening he fought through a shooting slump (he was 5-for-14 before his game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation) while coughing up far too many turnovers (he finished with a game-high six).

Still, thanks to his late-game revival, he scored 27 points.

Not occupied with his own offensive struggles, he did his best to try and slow James, which on most nights is a near-impossible task. James was quiet at times but dominant at others. He finished with a game-high 30 points to go along with ten rebounds and ten assists.