At the conclusion of this NBA season, LeBron James -- at 32 years old -- will have completed his 14th year in the league and probably will have played in the Finals for a seventh straight season.
The miles are adding up for the game's best player at an astonishing rate, and even though he continues to amaze us year after year, Father Time is undefeated and will catch up with the King eventually.
We don't know exactly when the decline will begin, but we do know it's coming. It seems like a safe bet to believe that LeBron can play at or very near his current level for at least a couple more years, but after that, just how long he can remain dominant is anyone's guess.
With that timeframe in mind, we're taking a look at the 12 players who are the most likely candidates to -- one day -- take LeBron's title as the world's best player.
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Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA
If you believe the continual stream of nonsense that is spewed by Ball's father LaVar, he's more than deserving of a spot on the list. But even if you don't, Ball projects to be a top-three pick in this summer's draft, and he's already shown Stephen Curry-like flashes of shooting potential at just 19 years of age.
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Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Embiid is just 22 years old and would probably rank much higher on this list if we believed he'd ever remain healthy enough to one day reach his full potential. Even in limited action this season, Embiid posted statistics that no one else in NBA history has -- 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots while averaging fewer than 26 minutes per game. That alone is enough to put him in the conversation.
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Kristaps Porzingis, PF, New York Knicks
Porzingis has a unique skill set for someone his size, and when LeBron begins to slow down two or three years from now, Phil Jackson will be long gone and Porzingis will no longer be a prisoner of the triangle offense.
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Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors
Durant is already one of the game's five best players and is leading the Warriors in points, rebounds and minutes per game in his first season with Golden State. The fact that he's already 28 years old and playing in his 10th NBA season is the only reason he doesn't rank higher on this list.
Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
The reigning two-time MVP may have peaked offensively last season, when he averaged a league-leading 30.1 points per game while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and knocking down more than 45 percent of his shots from three-point distance. The addition of Durant hurts the 29-year-old Curry's ranking here, mainly because he no longer has to do so much.
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Anthony Davis, C, New Orleans Pelicans
Already one of the league's five best players at 23 years old, Anthony Davis is a four-time All-Star who's averaging 27.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots in his fifth NBA season. The NBA is becoming more and more of a guard-driven league, though, which is why we ranked even the game's best bigs a little lower on the list.
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Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook is on a tear this season, the likes of which we've never seen. The triple-double average is certainly impressive, but it's the energy and constant fury Westbrook plays with that makes him so special.
If there's a downside to having the greenest of lights, it's that the 28-year-old's shooting percentage is the lowest it's been since his second season in the league seven years ago, and it's worth wondering whether he can be a little more inclusive once the team adds some offensive talent to the roster.
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James Harden, PG, Houston Rockets
Harden is the favorite to win the MVP award this season, thanks to a combination of leading the league in assists while remaining one of the game's most efficient high-volume scorers. But he'll be 30 years old and in his 11th NBA season by the time LeBron begins to show significant signs of slowing down.
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Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
We still prefer guards to bigs at this point, but Towns is averaging 24.6 points and 12.2 rebounds in his second NBA season, at just 21 years old. It's impossible to ignore what he might become three or four years down the road.
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Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
When looking at a list of the top 25 players under the age of 25, the one name that jumps off the page is Irving. The four-time All-Star is averaging a career-best 25.6 points per game this season, and he's doing it with LeBron on his team. He already has the best handles in the league; just imagine what his game might become when LeBron begins to take a step back.
Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
Leonard's defensive ability is what has the 25-year-old so high on our list, but as his offensive game has continued to evolve, he's shown a masterful level of footwork and a remarkable ability to create his own shot. The Spurs have won at least 50 games in the regular season for the last 20 years, so we expect Leonard to have plenty of opportunity to showcase his elite level of talent on the game's biggest stage.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
When watching Antetokounmpo play this season, it feels like we're witnessing the future of basketball. The 6'11" 22-year-old has the speed and ball-handling skills of the game's best point guards, while also having the size and athleticisim of its best big men.
The combination of youth, talent and overall potential Giannis possesses makes us confident in the fact that there's no one else we'd rather have at the top of this list.