In a deciding game that was eerily similar to Game Four of the Western Conference Finals, experience again caused youth to crumble when it mattered most.
Like Kevin Durant, it was Derrick Rose’s turn to learn the toughest of basketball lessons: Barring few exceptions, you have to suffer your share of painful playoff exits before you can win it all.
Going into the final three minutes trailing by 12 points, you probably thought the game was all but over. And nine times out of ten, you would have been right.
But then, almost out of nowhere, James and Wade put together an 18-3 run to steal the game and end the series.
It happened so quickly, so ruthlessly, that afterwards the players themselves were at a loss for words when asked to explain what exactly happened.
"We want to watch the last four minutes of the game," James told reporters after the game, "because we don't really know what happened."
It started with Wade.
Down 77-65, after a Chicago offensive rebound and Ronnie Brewer three-pointer, Wade scored on consecutive drives to the basket to cut the lead to eight.
Up until that point, Wade had looked so uncharacteristically uncomfortable that fans and commentators alike wandered what was wrong with him.
Was it physical? Psychological?
Through the first three quarters, Wade seemed incredibly passive and uncertain. He passed up the kind of open shots that he’s known for not only taking, but consistently making.
He was getting double-teamed and instead of splitting it like he always does, he would pick up his dribble and frantically look for a teammate to pass to.
Seeing Heat trainer Jay Sabol stretch Wade’s shoulder on the bench in the second half made you wonder if nagging injuries were bothering him more than he was letting on.
“I’m not hurt and even if I was, I wouldn’t tell you,” Wade told the media after Game Four.
After Game Five, Wade again did not point to any nagging injuries.
“I give the Chicago Bulls credit,” Wade told Ernie Johnson in the postgame interview. “Defensively they did a great job of making things tough for me.”
The Bulls certainly made life difficult for Wade. Brewer and the rest of the Bulls defense limited Wade to just under 19 ppg for the series on 40 percent shooting, far below his regular season average.
The thinking here is that Ray Allen had as much to do with it as the Bulls defense.
"Your legs went on vacation with Ray Allen," James jokingly told Wade while they were getting dressed after the game.
Playing in his hometown, where he struggled earlier in his career, couldn’t have helped either.
Perhaps it’s why James has been doing so much lately not only on offense, but by taking the hefty challenge of defending Derrick Rose, something Wade did in earlier games.
Down eight, Miami again forced Chicago into a tough Taj Gibson jump shot, which he missed.
James came back down the court and converted a three-pointer.
Next Heat possession: Wade hit a three-pointer, while getting fouled. Four point play.
You could almost see the air get sucked out of the United Center.
LEBRON CAUSING BLASPHEMY
With 30 seconds left and the scored level at 79, James continued to do what he’s been doing all postseason long and closed out the game with a long jumper.
And if that wasn’t enough, he followed it up by blocking Rose’s desperation three-pointer in the dying seconds of the game.
James’ play has caused an adjective shortage recently.
Even former Chicago Bull and six-time champion Scottie Pippen has been taken aback by everything James is doing for the Heat.
"Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to ever play in the game. But I may go as far as to say LeBron James may be the greatest player ever to play the game, because he's so potent offensively that not only can he score at will, but he keeps everybody involved,” Pippen told ESPN’s Mike and Mike Friday morning.
While the Jordan comparisons will no doubt sound blasphemous to some, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, to even get to this point tells you how far James has come since “The Decision.”
And while the Jason Segel’s of this world have an irrefutable point whenever they simply point to the collective jewelry on Jordan’s hands, James is getting closer to finally grabbing that elusive first ring.
Now, he has his best chance against a Dallas team that will provide a whole new set of problems for Miami, starting of course, with a certain seven-foot German.
But you better believe James will be ready.