Pat Riley has said it would be more difficult to have an NBA 33-game winning streak now than it was four decades ago.

LeBron James apparently has joined Riley in that thinking.

After his Miami Heat defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 109-77 Sunday night for their 26th straight victory, James compared the NBA now to how it was to 1971-72, when the Los Angeles Lakers’ won those 33 with Riley as a reserve guard. Riley is now president of the Heat, whose streak is the second-longest in NBA history.

“Back then, the leagues were separate. It wasn’t a full league at that time, the ABA and NBA leagues spread apart,’’ James said about 1971-72. “So some of the greatest players weren’t even in the (NBA) at the time. But … that takes nothing away from what (the Lakers) were able to accomplish; 33 games in a row is 33 games in a row. I don’t care who you’re playing against. Our league is so competitive now. We’ve got 30 teams. We have so many great players. To even have (had winning 33 straight) as a goal for me, it was never even an option.’’

James, who is well-versed in basketball history, is referring to a time when the NBA had 17 teams and the rival ABA had 11. The ABA that season featured future Hall of Famers Julius Erving, Rick Barry, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel, Mel Daniels and Roger Brown.

Riley has talked about a belief in it being harder now to win 33 games than when his Lakers did it. Riley has not been made available by the Heat for interviews during their winning streak, but he spoke about the subject last year with FOX Sports Florida.

“That streak, I don’t think it ever will be broken,’’ Riley said at the time.