After yet another defeat on Tuesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder are on the brink of elimination in the NBA Finals.

Yet despite the enormity of this series, the main story has become the matchup between MVP LeBron James and scoring champion Kevin Durant.

Both have been the essential leaders of their teams throughout the season, and both have flourished throughout this year's playoff run.

The heated question, that many expect will be answered at the conclusion of this series, is who is the better player?

Three-time all-star and former rookie-of-the- year Durant has put up record numbers in his four-year-tenure in the NBA. He is the youngest player ever to win a scoring title, an accolade he has won in each of the past three seasons.

He has won a gold medal in the Olympics, and holds the record for the most points ever scored in an all-star game (46).

Besides his impressive accomplishments, Durant is known more for his clutch shots, which have certainly shined through during this year's playoffs.

 I want to guard the best at the biggest point of the game, James said. KD is an unbelievable talent. I think we all know that, we all see that. He can make every shot on the floor.

Yet despite these achievements, is he really the best player in the league?

On the other side of the debate is the force that although disliked by much of the nation, is respected as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time.

James has been criticized for his decision to bring his talents to South Beach, yet has proven to critics that he can be successful no matter what color the jersey.

Now in his ninth season, James, 27, has accumulated over 19,000 points ranking him 51st of all time.

He is a three-time MVP, an eight-time NBA All-Star, and six-time All-NBA First Team member.

I see one of the best players to ever play the game, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said about James. He's aggressive, (and) he's so talented, strong. I see determination. But I've always saw that. The thing I really admire, he makes the right plays.

Stats are always interesting, but can they really be the determining factor?

James' biggest criticism, and ultimately the reason why he is not in the conversation for the greatest players of all-time, is the fact that he has not won a championship.

That one statistic is what separates good from great, and great from legendary.

Durant, only in his fourth-season, has progressively gotten better every year, and many expect him to surpass the records set forth by James.

I don't really get involved in the best player in the game. It doesn't matter to me, really, James said. When I go out on the basketball court each and every night, I want to be the best player in the game. I want to be the best player on that floor, and that's just how I approach the game.

At the pace of which Durant is playing, he is breaking the mold of every aspect of the game. He literately has become a scoring machine, yet his lack of experience will prevent him from being labeled the best player in the league.

James has proven himself to be a great player. He single-handedly advanced and destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers (since he left), and has now led the Miami Heat to back-to-back Finals.

Even though he is criticized more for last year's Finals performance than anything else in his career, his numbers speak for themselves.

He is the best player in basketball today.