There's no way he would have been ready for that. Not after The Decision and the criticism and all that came with it, part of what he now calls his transformation from the person he was to the person he is.
Turns out, they're nearly the same, although today's version may have just wrapped up one of the best years by any athlete.
"He's still hungry and thirsty for more," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And I think that's what separates the great ones and the ultimate competitors. He came off of a historic year, able to win the MVP and crown it with the ultimate team goal. ... He wants to continue to reinvent himself, get better and drive this team, push this team for a bigger legacy than just a one-title team."
James recently starred in a commercial for Samsung, one of many companies that pay him for endorsements. This particular spot, though, was more like a snapshot of James' life, in that it was as genuine as any ad he's ever done.
There's no actors in the primary roles — his fiancee, his friends, his children, his barber, his teammates, even the kids from the LeBron James Family Foundation, they're all playing themselves in the spot. Two years ago, James never would have asked any of them to be part of an ad campaign, simply to spare them from potential scorn.
That's no longer a problem.
"I wanted to be real," James said. "I wanted to go out and say, 'This is who I am' and I wanted to do it in commercial form. It's a commercial, but it's also actuality. There's nothing fake about it. I was blessed that we were able to put it together the right way, the way we actually envisioned it."
Funny how those words now apply to what the Heat did in 2010.
They signed James and Chris Bosh, kept Dwyane Wade, added pieces around them and — albeit a year later than they planned — became NBA champions. When that moment came, when James knew his wait to become a champion was at last about to end, the first thing he did was bury his head in Bosh's chest, trying not to cry.
James often says he is "humbled" by awards or praise. Never did he feel more humble in 2012.
His first act of the year — moments after midnight on Jan. 1 — was proposing to girlfriend Savannah Brinson. The way James sees it, that move on bended knee set the tone for everything else to fall into place.
"Can you propose twice?" James asked. "Can I do that again to get another year like this?"
He can't. But he would.