James is a three-time NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP, while the 32-year-old has been named MVP on four occasions – not to mention his 13 All-Star appearances.
The former Miami Heat forward is regarded as arguably the greatest basketballer of all time,
Durant is still some way off matching James' long list of achievements with just one championship, Finals MVP and NBA MVP to his name, but the Warriors forward feels he is worthy of being mentioned in the same breath.
"They have seen me play at the highest level and play against a guy who people say is continuously the best player ever," Durant told the Mercury News. "I feel like I proved myself and belong in that conversation."
While Durant does not have nearly the career numbers or accolades of James, they are 1-1 against each other in NBA Finals and neck-and-neck in head-to-head matchups statistically.
In 18 regular-season games against each other, Durant averages 28.9 points, while James puts up 28.8.
James has scored more than 30 points nine times, while Durant has done it seven. However, in their postseason matchups, Durant has eight 30-point games, while James has four.
Durant was the first to say comparing the two players is difficult because they are so different on the court.
"Our journeys are different. We're two different players. We have two different personalities," Durant said. "But when you see somebody that is just as good as you are as a basketball player, somebody that you work hard to reach their level, you look at him as if you had a healthy respect and have that mutual respect."
What is important to Durant is how he is viewed amongst the pantheon of greats, and with his shot over James in game three of the 2017 Finals, he feels he has joined James in history.
"When somebody passes the torch, they're letting you in the room," Durant said referencing his quote in GQ magazine. "You got LeBron. You got [Dwyane Wade]. You got [Carmelo Anthony]. You got Paul Pierce. You got Larry Bird. You got Dr. J all in a room. It's my turn to be in there with them and enjoy being one of the best players in the world."
Photo Getty Images. Caption: LeBron James, Kevin Durant