It will be billed by many as good versus evil.
But in so many ways, the NBA Finals matchup between the likable Thunder and what has become the unlikable Heat will be hyped as a series that will be defined by the team's two superstars.
Kevin Durant has developed into one of the game's best players who is well-liked. The Heat's LeBron James remains one of the NBA's top players who still is a polarizing figure cast as a villain since taking his talents to South Beach.
The spotlight in this best-of-seven series that starts Tuesday night in Oklahoma City also will shine on the other stars.
Both teams boast their Big Three — the Thunder have Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and the Heat have James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The Heat are back in the Finals for second straight year, having lost the championship last year to the Mavericks. The Thunder are back in the Finals for the first time since 1996, when the franchise was the Seattle SuperSonics.
On many levels, the matchup between the Heat and Thunder is intriguing.
The Heat's Wade and Mario Chalmers will face off against the Thunder's Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha, one of the NBA's better defenders, will have his hands full with Wade, who is at his best when he attacks the rim. Westbrook can be erratic from play to play. But when he's under control and looks to pass, he is dangerous and explosive. The Heat run a lot of isolation plays with James and Wade, and at times don't get enough ball and body movement because of that.
This probably will be the best matchup to watch. James and Durant, both small forwards, will be head-to-head frequently. James prefers to drive to the basket, but has been knocking down his jumper lately. Durant is a smooth shooter with range who also gets to the hoop. Then there are power forwards Bosh and the Thunder's Serge Ibaka. Bosh has a great midrange game and Ibaka is a great shot-blocker who can make some midrange shots. During the playoffs, the Thunder have been the top scoring team, averaging 102.3 points per game.
The Heat could start Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony or Ronny Turiaf and they will go up against Kendrick Perkins.
Harden, who was the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, is a force. Derek Fisher, the former Laker who has won five NBA championships, and center Nick Collison give OKC a strong bench. Shane Battier, who has been starting, Mike Miller and either Haslem or Anthony are solid reserves.
The Thunder's Scott Brooks and the Heat's Erik Spoelstra are both young coaches who work hard and have improved at their craft.
PREDICTION: Heat in 6.