James and the Miami Heat fell in five games to the Spurs in last year's Finals after beating them in seven games in the 2013 Finals. James also faced the Spurs in a Finals (2007) during his first stint with the Cavaliers; Cleveland was swept in that series.
From the report:
''I wouldn't say it's a rivalry,'' James said after practice on Tuesday. ''But I would say it's mutual respect, it's great competition and they definitely helped me grow along the way and hopefully, I pushed them too.''
James spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Cavaliers after being selected first overall in the 2003 NBA draft. He left Cleveland for Miami in 2010 to form the so-called "Big Three" with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
James failed to win a championship during his first stint in Cleveland but won two titles and went to four consecutive Finals with Miami. The four-time MVP announced in an essay published on SI.com this summer that he would return to Cleveland.
The Cavaliers are 5-4 this season and have won four of their last five games. James, 29, is averaging 27.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists while shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from three-point range.
Cleveland hosts the Spurs (6-4) on Wednesday night.