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Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James endures 'difficult' return to Miami

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James said it was "difficult" returning to Miami to play the Heat on Christmas Day.

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James returned to Miami for the first time on Thursday since swapping the Heat for hometown franchise the Cavs in a blockbuster free-agency deal in July.

It was not a victorious return for James as the Heat ran out 101-91 winners at AmericanAirlines Arena.

But while the game did not go to plan, James was cheered by adoring Heat fans prior to tip-off, much to his appreciation.

"It's tough to play under these circumstances, man," James said afterwards.

"You're so used to playing regular-season games, and then you have to play one like this. Or my first home game, when I went back home [this season], my first home game. So, it's very difficult."

The Heat displayed a thank-you video during a timeout with less than six minutes remaining in the first quarter, highlighting the four-time MVP's achievements across his four years in Miami, where he won two NBA championships.

"It's cool," James said of the video tribute.

"A lot of emotions come back and you know, I spent four years here with those guys man, and some guys are still here, some guys are not here. We put in a lot of hard work and dedication just to do the best we could.

"I think these fans are great. I always talked about them and always said that and they always showed their loyalty."

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