NEW ORLEANS -- LeBron James approaches the subject the same way he does basketball.
He's willing to share the ball ... and the spotlight. At least that is the way the maturer James is handling losing some of the shine during this weekend's NBA All-Star Game. With Kevin Durant challenging him for the most valuable player award and Steph Curry perhaps being the game's most fun to watch, James is somewhat an afterthought.
And he has no problem with it.
"It doesn't bother me," James said. "That's what happens: out with the old, in with the new."
James is at a point in his career where attention doesn't matter. He's had more than enough time at the forefront, being a national story since his junior year of high school. James sees nothing wrong with finally taking a back seat in terms of individual success.
"I'm not really an attention guy," James said. "If it happens, it happens, so be it. I don't know. I just want to play basketball the right way and play at a high level and put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship."
James drew his normal overflow of media during Friday's media session. He answered all the typical questions. About free agency. About the dunk contest. About winning a third straight title. And more about free agency.
Still, it had the feel of the game's best player perhaps losing his star power. It was more about Durant closing the gap on James. Only James could average 26.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and seven rebounds and have to answer questions about the competition gaining ground.
Just another part of being LeBron.
"I noticed that when I had a triple-double with 15 points in the Finals and it wasn't enough," James said. "That's OK but I understood I put myself at such a high standard that some numbers are just not enough. You've got to be special every night."
Durant has been most responsible for James falling out of the limelight. He is in the middle of the best season of his young career. He would likely win the MVP if the season ended now, but would rather fans celebrate both players instead of rank them against each other.
"You should really focus on how good LeBron James is and the growth that I've had as a player," Durant said. "...I think people should appreciate that more than always comparing guys."
Guard Dwyane Wade compared it to his younger days. There was a time when he looked to other players for motivation. Now, in his 11th season, Wade is more focused on the team element instead of individual numbers.
"It's motivation," Wade said. "I'm sure when you get to that point it's just like when I was in my individual stage. I was listening to see what was going on with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. That's where I was at. I was trying to see what was going on with them. Then you go out there and show what you can do. KD uses him as well. When you're up at the top, you have to use the person next to you to keep you focused, to keep you going."
James sounded as if was used to being pushed so hard. During one answer, he began naming players such as Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Paul George. It was his way of saying the league has always been full of superstars.
"It's never been a one-man show," James said. "That's why it's the greatest show in the world because you have so many guys who can do so many special things."
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