He now possesses everything a professional basketball player can want - an NBA championship ring to go with an Olympic gold medal.
So why would LeBron James want to come back and play more basketball after enduring a grueling season in leading the Miami Heat to the world title?
Because keeping his word to his country still matters to him. James promised USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski last year that he would play in the London Olympics.
"I never considered not playing," James said Friday after participating in the team's first practice at UNLV's Mendenhall Center. "It's always an honor to represent your country, and it's something I take very seriously."
Along with practicing with the U.S. team, James planned to spend time with some potential future Olympians and NBA stars at the LeBron James Skills Academy at Rancho High School, an event that runs through Monday.
But his focus is clearly on London - his third appearance in the Olympics. He was part of the disappointing bronze-medal squad in 2004 at Athens, then found redemption in 2008 in Beijing as Team USA won the gold medal.
Now, he's looking for a repeat with some new faces - the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love, among others.
"We've got a lot of veterans from China, and now we have a lot of new faces for London," said James, 27. "It'll be interesting to see how we mesh."
Along with adding to his legacy with the national team, James has a great appreciation for the past. At the team's Las Vegas training camp for the Beijing Games, he listened to a speech by former Olympian Doug Collins about taking advantage of opportunities.
Collins was a member of the 1972 USA basketball team that lost to the Soviet Union in the gold-medal game in Munich in a finish so controversial that the Americans refused to accept their silver medals. After the Americans beat Spain for the gold in Beijing, James sought out Collins, who was working as a TV analyst. James hugged him and said, "This was for you as well."
James said Collins' tale resonated with him because he had come up short in the past and didn't want his career to be associated with failure in the Olympics.
"(Collins) talked about how important it was to embrace opportunity, and that had stuck with me," James said. "It still does. Only a few people get to represent their country in a setting like the Olympics, and it's a responsibility I take very seriously."
He admits there hasn't been much down time since the Heat beat Oklahoma City on June 21 to win the NBA title in five games. But James said he has come down off the high and is ready for his next adventure.
"It's a great feeling to be able to accomplish a dream of yours," James said. "I'm happy to be a world champion."
Despite the rash of injuries that eliminated several candidates for Team USA, including Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James is confident the Americans have enough talent to bring home the gold medal.
"I'm going to make sure I do my part to make sure we're successful," he said.
■ NOTES - There was cause for concern after point guard Chris Paul injured his right thumb in Friday's practice. The Los Angeles Clippers star had his hand wrapped in ice after practice and went for X-rays.
"The good news was Chris wanted to go back in after he got hit on the thumb, which indicates to me that it's not a major thing," Colangelo said. ... Colangelo said the 15-man team will practice today at Mendenhall Center, then will be cut to 12. The announcement will be made at 5 p.m. at Wynn Las Vegas and televised on NBA TV (318).
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.