OK. So LeBron James occasionally has flashed signs this season of having flesh and blood like the rest of us.
Just occasionally, though.
There was Sunday in Boston, for instance, where LeBron wasn't his clutch self down the stretch at the foul line. Plus, he was hounded into an average scoring game by the Celtics' Rajon Rondo.
Not only that, courtesy of an 85-82 loss, the Miami Heat continued to show that LeBron and the rest of their Big Two and a Half (Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) remain a work in progress by losing for the fourth time in five games against one of the NBA's top teams.
Still, nobody tops LeBron as the Most Valuable Player.
I'm talking about the NBA, of course. But I'm also talking about LeBron as the undisputed MVP among players throughout the four major sports leagues in North America. He still has to find a way to win it all, but that's a different column. As for this one, nobody is a more significant force for any team in any of those leagues than this defensive end of a basketball player who is transforming the Heat into a championship-caliber bunch for the first time in five years.
He surpasses Pujols, Brady -- along with Sidney in hockey. And among LeBron's NBA peers, forget it.
Nobody is close.
Derrick Rose. Kevin Durant. Chris Paul.
I mean, nobody.
With James, the Cleveland Cavaliers finished with the best record in the NBA for two straight years through last season. Without James, the Cavaliers rival only the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers when it comes to consecutive losses by a franchise.
As for the Heat, they've had a superstar in Wade for a while, but they needed another one in the younger Shaquille O'Neal to capture a 2006 world championship. Two years later, Wade and Shaq still were around when the Heat had the league's worst record, and the Heat improved only to slightly better than mediocre after that.
Then along came the clumsy arrival of King James, but he arrived nonetheless.
You may recall that LeBron embarrassed himself with "The Decision" on national television last summer when he informed the Cavaliers and his hometown area of northeastern Ohio that he was bolting for South Beach as a free agent. He started rocky, and so did the Heat, but it became clear in a hurry that he was the key to the Big Two and a Half.
The Heat are 0-2 without LeBron, including a 28-point loss against the Denver Nuggets when he was missing with an ankle injury. He's scored 51, 44 and 41 points in a game this year.
More impressive, courtesy of LeBron's efficiency with passing and his agility at both ends of the court at 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, he makes Wade better, because now Wade can save himself (theoretically) for clutch moments at the end. He also makes Bosh better, because in contrast to having to function as The Man as he did with the Toronto Raptors, Bosh now can became a wonderful complementary player.
As a result, LeBron has the Heat in the elite conversation with the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Celtics.
You take Kobe away from the Lakers or Durant away from the Oklahoma City Thunder or Rose away from the Chicago Bulls or Paul away from the New Orleans Hornets, and you have inferior teams.
It's just that none of those teams is Cavaliers bad -- as in the LeBron-less owners of a 9-46 record and losers in 27 of their last 28 games, including a record 26-game losing streak.
Elsewhere in sports, the New England Patriots proved in 2008 that they can survive without Brady, owner of two MVP awards. After he was hurt during that season opener, Matt Cassel led the Patriots to 11 victories. Albert Pujols is pretty good, but so were the St. Louis Cardinals before he arrived in town a decade ago, and they'll be the same after he leaves. No question, Sidney Crosby already ranks among hockey's all-time greats, and he has been missing from the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup since early January due to concussion issues.
The Penguins still will make the playoffs.
As for history, Wayne Gretzky took the Edmonton Oilers to another Stanley Cup championship in 1988, and then he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Even so, in contrast to the awfulness of the post-LeBron Cavaliers, those post-Gretzky Oilers stayed postseason bound for four years. And, in contrast to the early success of LeBron's Heat, Gretzky's Kings didn't become potent overnight.
You did have mighty hints of another Lakers dynasty after Shaq joined them for the 1996-1997 season. He also left an Orlando Magic team that went from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals during his last year in town to just decency after that.
Decency is better than however you wish to describe the play of the post-LeBron Cavaliers.
On and on, we could go.
The point is, the last player to match LeBron by having such a positive impact during his first year with a team as well as such a negative one on the team that he just left was ...