MIAMI — So, America, what do you have to say about LeBron James now?
That he lacks the traits of a champion?
That he'll never be able to lead the Heat Superfriends to the second NBA title in franchise history?
Sorry, you can't make that claim anymore, not after the wild celebration LeBron's sustained brilliance set off here Thursday night.
How about the one that he can't finish out the games that matter the most? That he's not clutch?
Sorry, that knock is gone as well after LeBron put together another all-court masterpiece in this 121-106 blowout that stopped the favored Thunder in five games.
Best player without an NBA championship?
That's no longer LeBron, not after he completed a dream season with a Finals MVP performance before an AmericanAirlines Arena crowd bathed in white and overflowing with appreciation.
Maybe it's Thunder star Kevin Durant, still just 23.
Maybe it's Dwight Howard or Carmelo Anthony.
But it's not LeBron.
Finally. Thankfully. Fittingly.
"He's been playing this game his whole life," Dwyane Wade said of the friend he recruited two summers ago. "Everyone wants to be a winner. Everyone wants to celebrate a championship. It's a dream for everyone. He's no different."
And so, as the final seconds ran out and confetti fell from the rafters, the crown at long last rested on the head of the self-appointed King.
You could almost see the pressure lift, the burden of unrealized potential disappear as LeBron, at 27, caught up with the white whale he's been chasing through nine professional seasons.
He removed the mouthpiece with the Roman numeral "16."
No such reminder of his personal failings would be needed anymore.
Instead, it was time to exhale.
And for those closest to him to revel in the shared accomplishment.
"It's been quite a challenge for him," Heat center Chris Bosh said. "I think he's the most talked about superstar probably in the history of sports. He's taken it in stride. Of course he's made some mistakes. The part I've really admired about him is he's learned from his mistakes."
Owned up to them.
Vowed to do better.
"He's never sulked and complained and felt sorry for himself," Bosh said. "He just kept working. Put all his attention and all his love into the game. When you do that, things come back around for you. It just shows you can get over the hump if you really believe in yourself."
This whole idea of LeBron as America's Villain always seemed silly to me.
Yeah, I know, The Decision was overwrought and The Celebration premature.
But the level of vitriol directed at the game's most talented player was never in line with his perceived misdeeds.
In Australia, they call it the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Here, it just got to be plain nasty.
"It's unfortunate that somebody who has the qualities he has would be critiqued as negatively as he's been," Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He embodies so many of the things you would want from a professional athlete."
And then the man blessed to coach a three-time MVP rattled off those qualities.
"He's never been in trouble," Spoelstra said. "He's a great teammate. He's honored all of his contracts. And he has a dream he's been trying to chase but he's been doing it within a team concept."
That enough for you, America?
Sorry, there's more.
"He's a fun-loving guy and a great human being to be around," Wade said. "Obviously a lot of stuff is said out there about him that's not true, but that's people who don't know LeBron James."
Added Spoelstra: "He's such a likable guy. Anybody that's ever come across LeBron, you like him after the first 10 seconds."
So why so much venom from so many?
"That's just the way this world works," Spoelstra said. "You can't win unless you win."
So, America, what do you have to say about your favorite villain now?