LeBron James
LeBron James (R) is a four-time MVP. In this picture, James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers is guarded by Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter of a game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, Feb. 11, 2018. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

James Harden was named the 2017-18 season MVP on Monday after an impressive campaign with the Houston Rockets. But Kyrie Irving believes his former teammate LeBron James, who came second in the voting, should have received the honor instead.

It was Harden's first honor after finishing as the runner-up on two previous occasions. The Rockets shooting guard averaged 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game in the regular season as he led his team to a franchise record 65 wins to finish top of the Western Conference.

Harden led his team to the Western Conference finals but their progress was halted by the Golden State Warriors, but the Rockets took the reigning champions to Game 7 unlike the Cleveland Cavaliers, who surrendered in four straight games in the NBA Finals.

While Irving is happy for Harden to have been named the regular season MVP for the first time in his career, he feels James was more deserving of the honor purely based on the stats throughout the campaign. The Boston Celtics point guard labeled the Rockets shooting guard “the people’s MVP” while stating that the Cavaliers star was the NBA MVP this season.

James – not Harden – averaged 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds – the latter two being career highs – and played in all 82 regular season games for the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers small forward was seeking his fifth MVP title having won the last in 2013, which is a surprise considering he is arguably the best basketball player in the world at the moment.

“MVP, it's hard to gauge nowadays. Because now you have the people's MVP and you have, like, the NBA's MVP," Irving told radio station Hot 97 in New York on Wednesday, as quoted by ESPN. "I think the people's MVP was definitely James [Harden], but the NBA MVP is definitely LeBron [James]."

"If we're talking strictly based off stats, like, he checks every mark. ... He's incredible, he's incredible,” the Celtics guard added.

James took his post-season game to another level breaking multiple records as he almost single-handedly dragged the Cavaliers to their fourth straight NBA Finals, while he was playing his eighth straight Finals.

Meanwhile, James’ loss in the race for the MVP is not the main talking point this offseason, which has been dubbed "the LeBron James summer" because of his impending free agency.

The Cavaliers star has until June 29 to decide if he will take up the player option in his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. James’ future has been the main talking point since the end of the 2017-18 season with a number of teams vying for his signature.

The Cavaliers are desperate to hold on to him and revealed that they had held positive talks, but apart from his current employers, the Los Angeles Lakers are said to be the favorites to land the best player in the league at the moment.