Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are the two biggest superstars the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan. When it comes to popularity, winning, and overall ability, the two are the only ones since MJ to have an argument to be considered the GOAT. And considering that LeBron came into the league in 2003, their careers overlapped for over a decade.
At that time, perhaps the one thing fans wanted to see the most was Kobe and Bron going head-to-head in the NBA Finals. It never came to pass for one reason or another, although both won multiple titles after 2009 till Bryant's retirement. Considering how big both were, a rivalry was almost expected by the league, and it's fans.
However, despite everyone's best efforts to manufacture some tension between the two, they always admired each other's game. An interview from 2009, when both were at the top of their game, has shown how highly Bryant and James thought of one another.
LeBron James: "Never judge a book by it's cover because they don't know that person. He's (Kobe) definitely somebody you can be around all the time."