There's nobility in facing adversity.

There's satisfaction in overcoming struggle.

And somewhere in there, there's a storyline for an athlete to shape.

Surely, Kevin Durant knows this. He's been at these games -- basketball and narratives -- long enough. So it wasn't all that surprising that he would take a self-deprecating stance recently, as he adjusts to his new situation with the Warriors.

"There's a lot I need to learn about the game of basketball," Durant said. "I'm not as smart as I thought I was about the game. It's played a different way here then I was used to playing."

Some in the media took this quote as a shot at Durant's previous team, the Thunder. Durant said it wasn't; but that wasn't the most interesting element of it, anyway. It was Durant's admission that, entering his 10th season, he still isn't a polished product. And the insinuation that this won't be that easy.

After all, just about everyone assumes it will be -- as easy as it looked Tuesday in the Warriors' second preseason game, in which Durant posted 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a 45-point win against the Clippers.

And where's the honor in easy?

It was supposed to be easy when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces in South Florida, even if the supporting cast was significantly short of special. It wasn't easy at all, not after a 9-8 start, not after flopping in their first shared NBA Finals, not after Bosh tore his abdominal muscle in the 2012 postseason and the Heat were down 3-2 to the Celtics in the second round. All of this made it sweeter when the Heat captured the 2012 crown.

It will be deemed an even more monumental disappointment if Durant, joining the core of the team that won a title and then 73 games without him, can't close the deal this season. Joining Golden State came at the price of patience. He needs to win in June; he's already one year behind James, who won in his ninth season. The question, though, is how he gets there. As remarkable as it would be if Durant overwhelms opponents from start to finish, it will be even more admirable if he is forced to find more ways to defer and diversify for the betterment of his new teammates, even if that is occasionally uncomfortable.

K.D. knows the challenges that await him in Year One with the Warriors won't be easy. Getty Images

If he shows that setbacks really can make him smarter.

If he comes to completely comprehend how less -- as far as shots -- can be more.

If he comes out the other side as a better all-around player than when he arrived in Oakland.

In recent years, we've seen superstars, and stars, change sides. Some weren't asked to give up much of themselves. Shaquille O'Neal, signed by the Lakers in 2000 and traded to the Heat in 2004, was brought into new places to dunk or draw double-teams, and that's what he did. James, in 2010 with Miami and 2014 with Cleveland, was basically just asked to do what he does, even if the Heat eventually encouraged him to increase his activity in the post.

Durant is much closer to their class than to Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge, all of whom were acquired -- through free agency or trade -- in recent years and then expected to step back some, either from first option to second option, or even (in the case of Bosh or Love) from first to third.

Howard didn't handle it so well with the Lakers, though Kobe Bryant's ball and personality dominance had something to do with that. Nor did Love for a while with the Cavaliers, even after Bosh warned him about the difference, in an interview with me back in 2014:

"You just get your entree and that's it. It's like, wait a minute, I need my appetizer and my dessert and my drink, what are you doing? And my bread basket. What is going on? I'm hungry! It's a lot different. But if you can get through it, good things can happen. But it never gets easy. Even up until my last year of doing it, it never gets easier."

Aldridge joined San Antonio last summer, understanding that -- while he would remain a primary scorer -- the Spurs were more of an ensemble crew that he had for most of his time in Portland. While his shot attempts plunged from 19.9 to 14.1, his shooting percentage rose from .466 to a career-high .513. His scoring average was down from 23.4 to 18.0 in the regular season, though it did rise back to 21.9 in San Antonio's unexpectedly abbreviated playoff run.

At All-Star weekend in Toronto, Aldridge expressed surprise about the selection, since he wasn't scoring as much. But the coaches appreciated his efforts to assimilate, to stick with the process and improve along the way. To find a new way to help a team win.

Durant will earn similar appreciation if he can show the same traits.

Yes, there will be times when he should just take over.

Undoubtedly he will.

But taking stock in a situation, taking cues from teammates, and recognizing that it may take sacrifice and some time to get everything right?

That takes talent too.