LeBron James likes to be called “King” but his fourth-quarter performances are more like something you would see from a rook.

And it is becoming clearer than ever that the Miami Heat still are Dwayne Wade’s team. The “King” is nothing more than a pawn when it comes to which superstar you can rely on in crunch time.

The Dallas Mavericks are one win away from claiming the NBA championship over the Heat and the same player who bombed badly when the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics last season is once again failing miserably.

LeBron James has scored 11 whole points in the fourth quarter through five games of the NBA Finals. That’s about what Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki is averaging in the final quarter.

Dallas is on the verge of winning this series – Game 6 is Sunday in Miami – because its leading player rises to the occasion when the pressure is on. The King With No Rings goes the other direction.

It was highly entertaining to hear career nobody DeShawn Stevenson of the Mavericks accuse James of quitting during Game 4. You might recall James appeared to quit during the Celtics’ series last season too.

When the going gets tough, James starts folding. He certainly isn’t Kobe Bryant when it comes to rising to the occasion.

When James announced last July that he was going to “take my talents to South Beach,” that meant the entire package. The King plays some pretty good basketball during the regular season but the bigger the stage and the higher the pressure, the more his shots clank and the less he helps his team.

The King could have thrown in that his “talents” include a propensity for underachieving when the games are of utmost importance. It wasn’t only Cleveland’s supporting cast that kept LeBron from winning a title with the Cavaliers.

The guy who looks at himself as the best player in the NBA is averaging 2.2 points in the fourth quarter in this series. Eddie House could do that.

Heck, aging Juwan Howard could double that production. So could role player Joel Anthony.

Even overrated Chris Bosh doesn’t evaporate that much.

King James is averaging a pedestrian 14 points over the past three games and 17.2 points over the series. You could get that kind of production from Wesley Matthews, Lou Williams, DeMar DeRozan, Rodney Stuckey and about 100 other NBA players.

Because of how average James has been in the finals, the Heat are one loss away from watching the Mavericks celebrate a title on Miami’s home floor.

Wade has been superb – he’s averaging 28.4 points in the series – but needs some help from the self-appointed King if Miami is going to pull off a resounding comeback.

The Mavericks seem ready to win a title. Nowitzki has been sensational – he’s averaging 27 points – and guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd match Nowitzki’s competitive resolve.

When the series began, I rightfully placed the pressure on the Mavericks as this could be Nowitzki’s last chance to get a ring. He has played like he understands his career could end without a title if Dallas doesn’t win it all this season.

But now the Mavericks are sharing the pressure. All you hear wherever go is that LeBron James hasn’t risen to the occasion. He hasn’t stepped up. People are noticing a trend.

As Sunday’s tipoff nears, it’s becoming clear there is only one way for Miami to rally back and win the series. That is for James to step up and play like the superstar he claims to be.

Otherwise, James will continue to be known as the “King With No Rings.” And that moniker might need an adjustment too after his putrid final-quarter performances.

The “Rook With No Rings” will fit too.


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