Ever since he entered the NBA as the first overall pick of the 2003 Draft, LeBron James has drawn comparisons to other legends of the game, mainly Michael Jordan. Needless to say, that has made him a polarizing figure around basketball fans all over the world. One of the biggest arguments against James' case as the GOAT is his losing record in the NBA Finals. Then again, his biggest supporters claim that he's had tougher rivals than others like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or the aforementioned Michael Jordan have had.
While we're not here to address the GOAT debate and whether LeBron James should be ranked above or below anybody else, it's safe to state that he's had his fair share of tough rivals in basketball's ultimate stage.
James has gone against multiple All-Stars and Hall of Famers throughout his lengthy career. That's why today, we're going to let you know about 5 of the guys that beat him multiple times in the NBA Finals.
LeBron James' Toughest Rivals In The NBA Finals
Honorable Mention: Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
5. Tony Parker
Tony Parker was named Finals MVP in 2007, which was the first year that LeBron made the Finals. Parker and the San Antonio Spurs were clearly superior to James' subpar Cleveland Cavaliers, so they didn't have much trouble sweeping them.
Parker faced LeBron in the NBA Finals later in 2013 and 2014, losing the first and winning the second. In fact, some people believe that that loss in the Finals pretty much made James flee away from the Miami Heat.
4. Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki was beloved and respected around the league as an easy-going guy but the rumor around the NBA is that he never truly liked LeBron. Well, that seems to be the truth, as Dirk brought his A-Game in the Finals when it mattered the most to spoil James' second attempt at a ring.
James and Dywane Wade mocked Dirk's subpar performances (he was actually ill) before the Dallas Mavericks stormed back to win 3 straight games. That was during LeBron's first year in South Beach with Wade and Chris Bosh.
3. Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan has a strong résumé for being the greatest player of all time, yet no one seems to bring that out. He was one Ray Allen three-pointer away from being perfect 6-6 in the NBA Finals, with three of those wins coming against LeBron James.
Duncan was a beast back in 2007 during the Spurs' sweep of the Cavaliers. He had way more miles in him during the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals but still dominated Chris Bosh down the stretch most times, except for that miracle offensive rebound that led to Allen's three.
2. Kevin Durant
LeBron James prevented Kevin Durant from winning a ring in 2012. KD, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka's Oklahoma City Thunder couldn't match up vs. the Miami Heat's Big 3, and LeBron won his first-ever NBA championship.
Durant would get his revenge later, though, as he joined the Golden State Warriors and beat the Cavaliers in back-to-back NBA Finals, winning the Finals MVP award twice and even sweeping LeBron in 2018.
1. Stephen Curry
And last, but not least, we find Stephen Curry, who has historically owned LeBron James in the NBA Finals. James and Steph met 4 times in basketball's ultimate stage, with the Warriors winning three out of four times.
James can still brag about the time when he spoiled the Warriors' record season in 2016, becoming the first time a team comes back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. Still, if it wasn't for Steph, LeBron would have 7 rings by now and be the undisputed GOAT.