LeBron James on the cover of Sports Illustrated
Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated
All hail King James!
LeBron James is Sports Illustrated
's 2012 Sportsman of the Year
"He was the most dominant athlete this year – MVP of the NBA regular season, MVP of the NBA playoffs, led the Heat to the NBA championship and Team USA to the gold medal in London," Paul Fichtenbaum, Editor of Time Inc.'s Sports Group tells PEOPLE.
At just 27, the eight-time NBA All-Star and former all-time leading scorer of the Cleveland Cavaliers joins athletes including his teammate Dwayne Wade, Brett Favre, Michael Phelps, Derek Jeter and Drew Brees.
"The intangibles [James] brought to the court were significant in leading his teams to victory. He was a selfless player, doing whatever it took to will the Heat and Team USA, making all of his teammates better," Fichtenbaum says.
But it was more than his athleticism that led to James being honored. The basketball player – who is dad to LeBron Jr., 8, and Bryce, 5, with finacée Savannah Brinson
– established a program
to benefit children in Akron, Ohio.
Fichtenbaum says: "The program he built and developed in [the] Akron school district for young kids had a profound effect on children who ordinarily might fall through the cracks of an educational system," he says. "He didn't just lend his name to a cause, he was directly involved."