At the start of the season, many in the basketball world figured that with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade playing on the same team, neither one would have a real shot at winning the 2010-11 NBA MVP award because their stats would be lowered. Chris Bosh being on the Heat as well factors into it as well, of course.

Yet now, in early February, LeBron is steadily emerging as the league favorite to capture the award again.

Chris Perkins of Fox Sports Florida reports:

Miami (38-14) is winning. That’s the biggest requirement for the MVP. The Heat is only a half-game behind Boston (38-13), which is almost the unanimous pick to win the Eastern Conference.

And James is producing. He’s averaging 26.4 points per game (second in the NBA), 7.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists. For his career he averages 27.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.0 assists. So there’s been no big statistical sacrifice by joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form Miami’s Big Three.

Plus, James has already won the Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award twice (actually, he shared it with Wade in January), and he has the NBA’s highest-scoring game of the season with his 51-point outburst at Orlando. James has made the Heat better and he’s made his teammates better.

The other MVP candidates? Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the league’s leading scorer at 29 ppg, is probably the favorite. Durant also averages 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

If I had to vote today, I’d go with LeBron for sure, especially the way he’s on fire over his last 10 games.