James is a sucker for underdogs — “I love Arian Foster, from the Houston Texans,” he says, “because he didn’t get drafted, he played on the practice squad, and now he’s probably the best running back in the NFL” — knowing full well he will never be one himself. He will never win in an upset, never know what it feels like to overachieve. He assumes the most unsustainable position in sports, the eternal front-runner, and he kept coming up short at the finish. But after each colossal disappointment, while the talking heads returned their attention to Tim Tebow or whatever topic du jour gooses the ratings, James wiped the beer from his chin and resumed his discovery. “In every adversity there is a seed of equivalent benefit,” Riley says, and the Boat finds it. When James lost in the Finals in 2007, with the Cavaliers, he remade his jump shot. When he fell again in 2011, with the Heat, he built a post game. James was born with supernatural ability, but he lets none of it lie dormant. He extracts every ounce, through a distillation process created and refined by failure.