LeBron James promised that he'd cherish the moment in this Game 7, promised to have his guys ready. By now, we all knew that he would be.

There was no substitute for this feeling, James had said heading into this latest defining moment of his career. Nothing would be promised, either. If you haven't inhaled every breath of your life dreaming of this, you didn't belong here.

These were the words of LeBron James, and he delivered on them, the way he has delivered on promises made when he brought this Big Three together three years ago in Miami. Game 7's are forever, and James wasn't letting this one tarnish his legacy, wasn't letting these feisty Indiana Pacers block his path to a third consecutive NBA Finals.

James is headed to the fourth Finals of his career after orchestrating a 99-76 evisceration of the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. He is going because he singularly lifted his teammates, drove them confidently and charismatically to this moment and wouldn't let it go until the job was done.

"For a basketball player to be able to play in a Game 7 and to punch your ticket to the NBA Finals," James said, "it doesn't get any better."

And with a maturity that was born out of that 2010 Finals loss to Dallas, a humiliation that permanently changed him, James wasn't ready to let this one go even after it was over.

"I'm not going to take this win for granted," James said. "I'm definitely going to savor this win. ... I look forward to the challenge, but I'm not quite there yet mentally because I'm not going to take it for granted what we were able to accomplish tonight."

With 32 points, eight rebounds and four assists, James did the job with a ruthlessness that has come to define his career -- a kind of ferocity that defined the Heat's season until they stumbled and searched and got knocked off course by a Pacers team that James will be seeing again. But even more important was James' realization that he must bring Dwyane Wade along with him, must make the game easier for his hobbled co-star -- the one who welcomed him with open arms three years ago.