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Time for LeBron to Step Up Against Celtics

Yo, LeBron.

What now?

Do they have cake and punch and parting gifts Thursday night in Boston, just in case? The stuff people usually bring to a going-away party? And just how long did you pack for when you left Cleveland Wednesday? One night, or forever?

The egg you and the guys laid Tuesday night in game 5 could have made an omelet large enough to feed Akron. You were expected to lead the Cavaliers in their moment of need. You were expected to be unstoppable, invulnerable, unmatchable.

Customers don't go to an Iron Man movie to see Robert Downey Jr. end up handcuffed in a closet.

Instead, four different Celtics scored more points than you did. With Boston up by a couple of touchdowns, the crowd booed. Your crowd. Ouch. It was like seeing the Beatles booed in Liverpool.

OK, so you had a dud night. Happens to everyone. Jordan, Bryant, Johnson, Bird.

But not very often in game 5 of a series that is tied 2-2 -- crucial game 5 is what it usually gets called, and for a reason. Not very often at home, when the citizens are desperate for comfort and reassurance, and are worried you have a getaway car running outside, anyway.

Tuesday was your cue. They're still reviewing the tapes to see who the imposter might have been wearing your uniform. You played like Superman in a kryptonite mine.

Of course, one of the questions raging now is whether you'll need that home white uniform again, anyway.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the same day the Celtics put you spread eagle to the wall, the NBA owners officially approved the sale of the New Jersey Nets to that rich guy from Russia. Supposedly, he has enough money to buy Moscow, let alone one basketball player.

So here's the deal.

Thursday night becomes a moment the likes of which you have never before seen. You're not a kid anymore. You're not a new sensation anymore. You're a two-time MVP and supposed receiver of the baton from the famous old guys. Vocabularies have been stretched lately, trying to describe your greatness.

There is no way around this. You have to be sensational. One off game, you're human. Everyone is human, no matter what gods we try to make of them. Seen Tiger Woods' swing lately?

But a second straight clunker, and you're a goat. I doubt if in your entire basketball life, you have ever been a goat.

You don't necessarily have to win, though it'd certainly be nice for the folks back home. There will be other guys out there with you, and some of them Celtics who understand what spring is all about in the NBA. You might not get the last say on thumbs up or down for the Cavs. They might not let you.

But you'd better be good. No, wait. You'd better be better than good. You'd better be stubborn, aggressive, persistent, relentless, a constant source of Boston angst.

Superstars -- kings -- don't led friends get finished off without a fight.

What pops to mind is something your coach said earlier in the series, the night the commissioner handed you the MVP trophy, and the Celtics were supposedly looking old, and your world was milk and honey. Back before the storm clouds began to gather.

"He just has a natural grasp and feel about how to lead a team through good times and bad times," Mike Brown said of you that evening. "We all hold on to that."

Now a team and a city clings to you like a life preserver in a ship wreck.

What makes Thursday night so fascinating? Finding out what you intend to do about it.

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