The LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate isn’t going away, and it might become more heated in a few months. With the playoffs just around the corner, the Los Angeles Lakers star has a chance to win another championship and strengthen his case to be considered the greatest basketball player of all time.

James led the Lakers on a title run inside the NBA’s bubble last year, winning both his fourth ring and NBA Finals MVP award in the process. The league’s top star is still two championships shy of Jordan’s six. Winning it all this season would cut that gap in half for James and arguably push him past the Chicago Bulls legend in the GOAT conversation.

By defeating the 73-win Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, James owns the most impressive championship of the two basketball legends.

The 36-year-old could come close to matching that feat in July if the Lakers manage to overcome the star-studded Brooklyn Nets. A possible Lakers-Nets title series would elevate the status of a number of superstars, and bolster the legacy of James.

With Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, the Nets have a trio of superstars that present a serious challenge for the Lakers' hopes of repeating. The numbers suggest it’s the case, given Brooklyn’s historic offensive efficiency.

When healthy, Durant is one of the best players in the game. Harden is a perennial MVP candidate and among the best scorers in history. Irving is a wizard with the basketball and actually leads the Nets in both points and assists per game.

Brooklyn’s supporting cast can also score. Joe Harris makes nearly half of his 3-point attempts and has established himself as one of the league’s most deadly shooters. The team even added veteran Blake Griffin, who is expected to play a bigger role in the playoffs. 

Even with their constant injuries, Brooklyn is near the top of the Eastern Conference. At full strength, the Nets are the clear favorites in the East and could potentially cruise to a trip to the finals. The Nets have the best odds to win this year’s championship. Oddsmakers have placed a notable gap between Brooklyn and Los Angeles. 

James has another superstar teammate in Anthony Davis. Unlike the Nets, the Lakers don’t have a third star and face a serious test in the deep West. Indeed, head coach Frank Vogel may need his duo to be at their absolute best if the Lakers go head-to-head against the Nets.

Jordan defeated the best players of his generation on his way to winning championships. This year’s Nets team could top any opponent the 1990’s Bulls faced by a significant margin. Arguably the toughest test the Bulls faced was the Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998, led by aging stars Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Once James matches Jordan in terms of rings, the GOAT debate might effectively be over. James has the edge in overall stats, putting together a stretch of greatness that has never been seen in the sport.

Jordan was a 14-time All-Star with 10 All-NBA First-Team selections and one appearance on the Second Team. James has made the All-Star Game in each of the last 17 years. With 13 First Team appearances, two Second Team selections and a Third Team appearance, James doesn’t look like he’ll be left off an All-NBA team anytime soon.

James is on track to finish his career as the all-time leading scorer with more assists than only a handful of players. In the postseason, James already ranks first in points, second in assists and sixth in rebounds. 

The meltdown in the 2011 NBA Finals is the one major blemish on James' record. Jordan was a perfect 6-0 in the Finals, never faltering on the biggest stage like James did a decade ago. That fateful series against the Dallas Mavericks will only be a small footnote on James' career if he continues on this trajectory.

Before suffering a high ankle sprain, James was a top MVP candidate. His absence has caused the Lakers to fall in the standings, making Los Angeles’ path to the Finals even more difficult.

It could prevent James from winning another title, or it might just be what allows the Lakers’ star to cement his legacy as the best to ever do it.

A fourth career NBA title for LeBron James in his 10th career NBA Finals appearance has revived the long-asked question of whether James or Michael Jordan is the league's all-time greatest player A fourth career NBA title for LeBron James in his 10th career NBA Finals appearance has revived the long-asked question of whether James or Michael Jordan is the league's all-time greatest player Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Douglas P. DeFelice