In an excerpt from the upcoming book, Return of the King, ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin shed some light on what went down behind-the-scenes leading up to LeBron James's decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2014.

Even though James "knew for some time" that he opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat and become a free agent, the idea of heading back to the Cavs was something mentioned to those individuals in his inner circle, such as his family members, agent Rich Paul, and longtime friend Maverick Carter.

According Windhorst and McMenamin, after the Heat fell to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, the thought of going back to Cleveland pushed "to the front of James's mind." However, the NBA landscape would have looked a whole lot differently because, if the Heat managed to topple the Spurs, the Return of the King authors believe The King would've kept his talents in South Beach.

And that meant the hometown Cavs -- even if they didn't know it, and all of their actions showed they didn't -- were in the lead. They were there because James felt a pull to come play at home, where he could live in his Akron mansion and send his kids to Akron-area schools near all of his friends and family and his wife's friends and family. And he could try to change the course of his career by trying to lead the woebegone Cavs to a championship. He'd followed the team and its moves, and he thought it would be possible.

On July 11, James made it official, announcing that he was "coming home."

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