Take Cleveland first.
Three summers ago, it was hard to envision Ohioans would ever welcome him back after The Decision prompted Cavs fans to burn their LeBron jerseys in effigy and led club owner Dan Gilbert to write such a scathing open letter it brought a $100,000 fine from the league.
Gilbert accused James of leaving in a shameful display of selfishness and betrayal that he called a shocking act of disloyalty. Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston made a cottage industry of LeBron-bashing, calling him despicable and saying he had done the franchise incalculable damage.
So. Would Cleveland have him back?
Only in a heartbeat.
Gilbert would swallow his pride if he saw a championship or two in James return. Fans might be hesitant only until James finished that first alley-oop pass from Irving with a monster dunk, then all would be forgiven. Just this week, symbolizing Clevelands changing attitude toward LeBron, Livingston penned a conciliatory column, writing, I think Miamis championship was the beginning of the healing process for many Cleveland fans.
Now on to us.
How would Miami feel if James opted out and left in 14? How should we? Would it matter if the Heat collected another title or two this season or next, or would the feelings either way be the same?
I would imagine many fans and likely most would thank James for the thrill ride and the parade(s), understand his desire to return to Cleveland, and wish him well.
I would also imagine many others would be angry and see him as turning his back on the city that embraced him when everyone else hated him. The city where he enjoyed his greatest success.
There would be plenty in either camp whether James left with one championship ring, two or even three, and its tough to say where sentiment would mainly fall.
What I mostly think is that I hope we never find out. James is such an extraordinary talent I have no trouble blurring the line between journalist and fan in this case and hoping Miami finds a way to re-sign him. Selfishly, I would love for James to end his career here. I only wish I believed he would.
Sunday will be interesting because both his teams will be on the court when the Cavs visit the Heat: The one renting his services, and the one that still owns his heart.
It feels like it has already begun.
The Long Goodbye.