The 2012 NBA Finals ratings have surged as the showdown between LeBron James' Miami Heat and Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder gets under way.

The 2012 NBA Finals are turning out to be one for the history books, as James and Durant battle to be king of a new era of professional basketball, hoping to take the crown from an aging Kobe Bryant.

And the 2012 series is also turning out to be a good one for exclusive Finals carrier ABC's checkbook, as both of the first two games have surpassed the past eight year's ratings for their respective places in the seven-game series.

Game 1 on Tuesday notched the highest ratings of any NBA Finals Game 1 since 2002, while Game 2 Thursday night brought in the best Nielsen ratings for a Finals Game 2 since 2004.

Who won the 2002 NBA Finals ring? No other than Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, a fact that sets the stage for this historic match-up between the team's most dominant players.

Durant, who was named the league's scoring champion for the third year in a row this year (edging out Kobe Bryant by a tenth of a point per game, James was 0.8 points behind Kobe) is the young gun at 23, while James handily earned the league MVP award this year and these Finals mark the first post-season showdown between the two small forwards, who are good friends off the court but fierce competitors on it.

And as they battle for supremacy in a league whose Western Conference Finals this year already saw a 16 percent overall increase in its viewership over the 2011 contest, millions more Americans are making sure to tune in.

In fact ESPN reported that an average of 11.8 percent more people tuned in to Game 1 and 2 together, putting it on track to become close to -- if not the -- most successful Finals in the past decade.