“It means a lot to represent this franchise,” said James.
“I told [Lakers president] Jeanie [Buss] when I came here that I was going to put this franchise back in the position where it belongs.
“We just want our respect. Rob [Pelinka] wants his respect, coach [Frank] Vogel wants his respect, our organisation wants its respect, Lakers nation wants its respect.
“And I want my damn respect too.”
He was named NBA finals MVP after leading his team to the 4-2 series victory. James, who won the award during two championship runs with Miami and one with Cleveland, is the first player in NBA history to earn the honour with three different teams.
“He’s the greatest player the basketball universe has ever seen,” first-year coach Vogel said.
“And if you think you know, you don’t know, okay, until you’re around him every day, you’re coaching him, you’re seeing his mind, you’re seeing his adjustments, seeing the way he leads the group.”
James finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo scored 19 for the Lakers.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also added 17 points for Los Angeles, who have missed the play-offs in each of the previous six seasons.
Bam Adebayo had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder scored 12 each for the Heat, whose Cinderella run at the NBA bubble came to an end. Goran Dragic returned from four games missed with a foot injury, but it wasn’t enough for Miami to force a game seven after falling behind 3-1 in the series.
“This locker room, regardless of whatever happens in the future, we’re going to remember this year, this season, this experience and that locker room brotherhood for the rest of our lives,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You’re in this business to be able to be around people like this. And I can go on and on.
“But the guys that competed and played in this series, we had several guys that were not even close to being a 100 per cent. Probably shouldn’t have been playing, but that’s how this group was. They wanted to do it for each other. And I just, I’m really bummed that we couldn’t find a way to get over the hump and finish the season with a win.”
Vogel shook things up from the tip by starting Alex Caruso over Dwight Howard and shifting Davis to centre. Caruso had made only two starts all season. The move paid off, as Los Angeles effectively put the game away by outscoring Miami 36-16 in the second quarter.
Intermission did little to slow down Los Angeles, who led by as much as 36 before finishing the third quarter up 87-58. Ahead 103-86 with 1:27 remaining, James and Davis went to the bench to begin celebrating with their teammates.