LOS ANGELES – LeBron James has watched Kobe Bryant go down with significant injuries twice within the past nine months. With his biggest rival sidelined for the Miami Heat's Christmas Day meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers, James wasn't overly introspective about his own NBA mortality. But he also isn't naïve about the future.
"We all got to go some time," James said. "None of us can play forever."
Bryant's Achilles and knee injuries contrast the durability he'd shown throughout in his career – and are a reminder that James has never really had injury problems himself. The four-time NBA MVP has never missed more than seven games in a season. Regular season and playoffs combined, James has already played more than 37,000 minutes in his career.
So what's the key to his good health?
"I don't have a key," said James, who will turn 29 on Monday. "I've been fortunate to be healthy. I do everything I can as far as strength and conditioning to stay above the curve, so to speak. I don't have an answer for it. We all know Father Time … is undefeated.
"But you just try to slow it down, I guess. And, for me, I try to take care of everything I can off the court in the offseason, and then into the season I can go full steam. And if I do get into the season and hit a bump in the road maybe I can come back quicker than anyone else because I've always tried to keep my body right."
James said Bryant is one of the "few guys in the league that come back from anything." On Sunday, Bryant and James exchanged pleasantries during a second-quarter timeout and after the game.
James had 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the Heat's 101-95 victory over the Lakers, but said the Christmas game would have been much more memorable had he played against Bryant.
"It's not as special with Kobe not being out there," James said. "I love going against one of the best and one of the greatest competitors we have in our game."
Bryant will also likely miss the Lakers' only other scheduled meeting with James and the Heat on Jan. 23. Bryant and James also have never met in the NBA Finals, despite Bryant having played in seven Finals since 2000 and James playing in four of the past seven. When Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers before the start of last season, it was thought Bryant and James would finally get their dream matchup. Instead, Bryant suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on April 12 and the Lakers were swept out of the first round of the playoffs.
"It definitely would've been great," James said of the possibility of facing Bryant in the Finals. "I think I wanted it. I think he wanted it. And I didn't do my part one year. We lost to Orlando in the  Eastern Conference Finals. So I didn't do my part to meet there.
"It definitely would've been great to go against him in the Finals. But it never happened and I don't know if it will happen or won't."
James had a warning for Charles Barkley and others who think Bryant should sit the rest of the season.
"I've been hearing reports with people giving their stupid opinions about what he should do," James said. "He's not going to sit. It's not in his nature. He's an alpha male. He's going to get healthy, he's going to come back and he's going to play the game that he loves that he has been playing forever.
"When he gets back he's going to play at a high level. With him, I don't expect nothing less than greatness. Obviously, we all get older each and every year. But the caliber of player he is, he can go out and put up 20 every night if he wants to."
Perhaps once James reaches his 30s he will start thinking more about his NBA mortality. But he's not spending much time dwelling on it now.
"I just try to live now, live in the moment," James said. "The man above knows how much time he's going to give me with this game. Once he decides I don't have much time or I don't have any more time to give then I will quits."