Fate has brought the Spurs and LeBron James together in the Finals once more, and the circumstances couldn’t be any more tantalizing.

James, now well-established as the best player in the world, leading his Heat in defense of last year’s championship against the Spurs, back in the Finals for the first time in six years.

It’s a far cry from the first meeting in 2007, when James and his callow Cavaliers had no idea what they were up against against a hungry, battle-tested Spurs team chasing its third crown in five years.

The result was predictable — a 4-0 sweep, with James having marginal impact.

Multiple outlets have re-hashed an amazing anecdote from that series. Tim Duncan, ever the mentor, took a brief respite from the Spurs’ championship celebration to console the deposed King James.

Duncan was drenched in champagne as he spoke, and he saw such a moment for James.

“I love how you are with your teammates,” he said then. “Stay that way, man, stay that way. This is going to be your league in a little while. I appreciate you giving us this year.”

It was a gracious notion, if not wholly accurate. Duncan was correct about the NBA one day belonging to James. Then again, anyone with even a marginal grasp of the sport could see that coming. That it took until last season was the only real surprise.

But the Cavaliers didn’t give the championship away so much as the veteran Spurs took it, sweeping them in four games while rendering the future four-time MVP almost non-existent.

James’ youth and the underwhelming quality of his supporting cast relegate that series behind other disappointments, most notably his bizarre disappearance in the 2011 Finals.

Remove context, however, and James has never played worse in the postseason than he did against the Spurs. Blanketed by Bruce Bowen, with no post game or consistent jumper to fall back on, he averaged just 22.8 points on 35.6-percent shooting with almost as many turnovers (23) as assists (27).

When he wasn’t harassing James with his quickness or funneling him inside to the waiting Duncan, Bowen simply backed off James and dared him to make mid-range shots.