Life is good as an NBA city. The Thunder won just the other day. Unexpected life raft Nenad Krstic could be floating by any time. LeBron James played 42 minutes and 46 seconds Sunday night not because Cleveland coach Mike Brown wanted to reward the Oklahoma City crowd for loyal attendance, but because he wanted to win the ball game. The Cavaliers beat the Thunder 102-91 in a thoroughly entertaining affair Sunday night at the Ford Center. Kevin Durant outdunked LeBron, 5-3 (you look for small victories when your record is 3-25). Russell Westbrook toyed with a triple double, finishing four rebounds shy. Cleveland made 11 of its first 13 shots and led by just three. The teams combined to make 16 of 32 3-pointers. That’s fun basketball. Fun and good, which is all we can ask for in this maiden Thunder season that is flirting with historic futility. Brown, whose team is 23-4, the virtual converse of the Boomers, painted a rosy picture of OKC’s future, raving about Westbrook and praising new coach Scott Brooks’ player rotation. "Their confidence is starting to grow,” Brown said. "They’re going to win ball games.” Be still my heart. We are long past hoping for victories in this first Thunder road. Be competitive and be entertaining, and Oklahoma City will be more than happy. Especially if the likes of LeBron is performing. This is why the NBA is great, even if Oklahoma City makes like Denver or Atlanta or Charlotte or Salt Lake City or almost a dozen other NBA cities and never holds aloft the Larry O’Brien Trophy. LeBron passing through town once a year is a treat. Sunday, his stat line was nothing special, by LeBron standards: 31 points, 14-of-24 shooting, seven assists, three steals, two rebounds. But he’s so smooth and so powerful and so skilled, you really can’t believe it lest you see it in person. LeBron is one of those players who makes opposing crowds go "oooooh” even as they curse the two points he just scored against the good guys. LeBron also is mature. He comes across as amiable, even talked about how he offered to be a sounding board for Durant, the Thunder’s second-year cornerstone. "Being a No. 1 pick, trying to save a franchise, I’ve been in that position,” LeBron said. Let’s not get carried away. The Cavaliers were 17-65 the year before LeBron’s arrival, but they were 35-47 in his rookie year, 42-40 his second year and have been an Eastern Conference power ever since. So LeBron has no idea of the depths of losing that has beset Durant and comrade Jeff Green, who in one season and two months as pros are 23-87. But we appreciate LeBron’s empathy. And his appearance. Superstars like LeBron will help make these growing pains bearable. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080. Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.