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Michael Phelps runner-up for AP Male Athlete of the Year

Swimming - Olympics: Day 4

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09: Gold medalist Michael Phelps of the United States kisses his gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

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LeBron James kept Michael Phelps from taking his third Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year award.

James, a two-time Olympic champion, earned the accolade for 2016 after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA title. James, who skipped the Rio Olympics, also was AP Male Athlete of the Year in 2013.

James had 24 first-place votes, followed by Phelps with 16 and Usain Bolt with nine. Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry tied for fourth place in voting. Cristiano Ronaldo, Von Miller and Andy Murray also received votes.

Phelps won the award in 2008 and 2012, when he captured eight gold medals in Beijing and six medals in London, respectively.

Phelps could have joined elite company with a third AP Male Athlete of the Year honor. Only Michael Jordan (three), Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong (four each) have earned the title more than twice.

James also took the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award earlier this month. Phelps was honored with a greatest Olympian of all time award.

In 2012, Phelps edged James by three votes -- 40 to 37 -- for the AP Male Athlete of the Year. Bolt was third with 23 votes.

MORE: Michael Phelps says NBA star will return to Olympics for his son