miami_heat_3.jpgMIAMI (AP) _ LeBron James left the court in Miami with one arm raised. Behind him, the Eastern Conference championship celebration continued.

James was looking ahead. Simply getting back to the NBA finals is not enough for James, especially not in a championship-or-bust season. He's been here before, though never playing at quite this level.

His third trip to the finals starts Tuesday night, when he and the Heat open the title series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

James turned in a rarely seen performance in the East finals against Boston, with six 30-point games in the seven-game series. His “off'' game was a 29-point night.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says James has been “absolutely brilliant.''

He'll likely have to stay that way to win his first title.