By Julian Linden
LONDON (Reuters) - In an Olympic sport played by giants LeBron James towers above everyone else.
He may not be the tallest player on the floor but there is no doubt that King James holds court.
After winning his first NBA championship with the Miami Heat in June, James would have been forgiven for skipping the London Olympics and spending his summer break lazing on the beach.
He has already achieved every honor in the sport of basketball, including a gold medal with the U.S. team at Beijing four years ago, and is rich beyond his wildest dreams but the thought of skipping the Games never entered his mind.
Committed to the Olympics, James won a bronze medal at Athens in 2004 then gold at Beijing and now London in what may be his last appearance at the Games.
"It has been a great ride (but) I don't know if I am going to be a part of the 2016 (Olympics)," said James.
"We've had ups and downs, but thankfully there have been more ups than downs."
With a star-studded team packed with NBA players, the U.S. were one of the hottest favorites in London to win gold whether James was there or not.
They duly delivered, beating a gallant Spain 107-100 in Sunday's final, with James the standout player of the tournament in a team that had an embarrassment of talent.
By winning, James capped a golden summer where he cleaned up the four biggest team and individual honors in the sport.
In addition to winning his first NBA title against the Oklahoma City Thunder and second Olympic gold medal, he was named as the Most Valuable Player during the NBA regular season for the third time.
He also won the MVP award for the final. Only Michael Jordan, whom LeBron is constantly and unflatteringly compared with, completed the same rare grand slam, at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when active NBA players first went to the Games.
"It has been a great ride for me. I could have never scripted it this way," James said.
"I've had many dreams about it, winning an NBA championship and then following it up with a gold medal being part of so many great teams.
"I'm fortunate to be in this position and healthy. I'm happy that I am able to do this for our country."
For James, the lure of going to London was simple. The kid that used to play basketball to bring some stability to his troubled upbringing, just wanted to play ball with his pals.
From the start of the tournament, it was clear James was having fun. Unlike the NBA playoffs, he was not shouldering the burden of expectation, happily switching from offence to defense and sharing the ball with his All-Star team.
When the final buzzer went, James leapt into the air, hugging and high fiving his team mates and bouncing around like he was auditioning for Dancing With the Stars before draping himself in the American flag.
"We have an incredible team, we love when it gets tight," James said.
"That's when our will and determination shows, it was the same in 2008 we played against those guys (Spain), who are a great team and much respect to them."
(Editing by Ken Ferris)
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