Miami Heat superstar LeBron James doesn't like the Chicago Bulls - and he knows they don't like him.

The Heat and Bulls enjoy a fiercely contested rivalry, and the two Eastern Conference foes go head-to-head this evening in one of the first matches of the new NBA season.

And for James, the fact it's up against the Bulls makes it extra special.

"We don't like them, they don't like us," James told ESPN. "It's not unheard of. We all know how it is."

The Heat have prepared for the physicality of the Bulls by practising with football pads in the week leading up to the game.

James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade took part in drills that saw them drive into the paint for lay-ups while Heat coaches attacked them the pads.

The Bulls are proud of their reputation as one of the strongest defences in the NBA, and they've had a few good battles with the Heat in recent seasons.

And the reining MVP revealed he's looking forward to facing the Bulls - who will have their superstar point guard Derrick Rose back in NBA action for the first time since 2012.

"It don't matter who it is," James continued. "But we like the fact that it's the Bulls."

The Heat will be celebrating last season's NBA championship tonight - the first game on home court sees the defending champions raise their championship banner prior to tip-off.

And the team will receive their rings before the game as well in a ceremony that marks the beginning of the new season.

Both the Heat and the Bulls are expected to challenge for the Eastern Conference title this season.

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