Larry Bird and LeBron James are quite possibly two of the best in NBA history to have played the small-forward position. Each brought his own unique skill-set to the game and the pair will always be remembered as some of the greatest competitors to ever hit the hardwood.
At the moment I believe Larry has a slight edge over LeBron for the number one spot. However, James is now entering his 14th NBA season and has yet to show any signs of slowing down in the next few years. Bird only totaled 13 NBA seasons, including two that were cut short due to injury. At the pace James is currently on, he may not only become the greatest small-forward of all time, but very well the best ever player at any position. In the end, it could be James' durability that sets him apart from other NBA legends such as Bird.
In choosing one of the two, there really is no wrong answer. Both Bird and James have undeniably earned the right to be in the discussion.
(Interesting side note to think about): If we were to switch eras between Bird and James, it is reasonable to believe that they each would have had more success throughout their career. Today, Bird would be an ideal small-ball stretch four. While in the 80's, the physical James could have focused more on his post-up game and mid-range ability, rather than emphasizing shooting from beyond three-point line, a place where he has been hot and cold season-by-season. It is kind of ironic that these two greats would have possibly been even better if we were to switch their time periods.