LeBRON JAMES is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, four years after leaving his home state to join the Miami Heat.

The NBA's biggest star made the proclamation in a first-person essay published in Sports Illustrated, in stark contrast to his televised 'Decision' four years ago, for which he was heavily criticised.

During his time in Miami, James led a star-studded Heat team to two NBA championships and four Eastern Conference titles but Sports Illustrated's banner headline "I'm Coming Home" explained his decision to go back to Cleveland.

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"Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio," James wrote. "It's where I walked. It's where I ran. It's where I cried. It's where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I'm their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me.

"I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with north-east Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realise that four years ago. I do now."

The Heat, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers had also expressed interest in signing James, who is widely regarded as the best basketball player on the planet.