They also are two of the league's most popular young stars. Each led all forwards and ranked second overall in their respective conferences in All-Star voting, and both are in the top 10 in jersey sales.
All that's preventing a real rivalry is the actual games. Durant is 0-5 against James. As a rookie, Durant's Seattle SuperSonics defeated James Cleveland Cavaliers. James, however, didn't play because of injury.
“I don't really think it's a rivalry since we don't play each other that much,” Durant said. “We're only guaranteed to play each other twice. And if we ever do play them outside of the regular season it'll be in the Finals.”
Who says that day is far off?
James' other competitors are fizzling out. Dwyane Wade has become a teammate. Kobe Bryant is pushing 33. Spurs guard Manu Ginobili is 33, and Tim Duncan turns 35 in late April. Most of the Celtics are fighting Father Time. Paul Pierce is 33. Kevin Garnett is 34. Ray Allen is 35.
The Thunder and the Heat, meanwhile, both have cores in their early to mid 20s. Wade is 29, but James and forward Chris Bosh are both just 26. Durant and teammate Russell Westbrook are only 22.
Durant, though, almost goes out of his way to downplay a budding rivalry.
“It's kind of cool for the fans of the game. But as a player, you just want to go out there and play,” Durant said. “You don't want to take anything from your teammates or the organization. I don't want it to be Kevin Durant versus LeBron James. I want it to be the Thunder versus the Heat.”
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THUNDER VS. HEAT
When: Noon, Sunday
Where: Oklahoma City Arena.
TV: ABC (Cox 8, HD Ch. 705)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
* Miami guard Dwyane Wade (wrist) is doubtful for today's game. Heat forward Chris Bosh (ankle) is out.
* The Thunder has won a season-high six games at home.
* Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha's streak of 127 consecutive starts ended Friday against Washington because of a sprained knee. Sefolosha is doubtful to play today.