James made 22 of 33 shots from the field, including his first eight 3-point attempts. His career best had been 56 points, on March 20, 2005, for Cleveland against Toronto.
Rice scored 56 to set the Heat record on April 15, 1995, against Orlando.
James had 24 points at halftime, then added 25 in the third quarter. The record-breaker came with 5:46 left, when James spun through three defenders for a layup that fell as he tumbled to the court.
Al Jefferson had 38 points and 19 rebounds for the Bobcats, his huge night merely an afterthought.
When James checked out with 1:24 left, the entire Heat roster met him near midcourt for high-fives and hugs, and the sellout crowd gave him a standing ovation. A second huge roar followed when he waved to the crowd, as “M-V-P” chants rained down.
James had 11 in the first quarter, after which Miami led by three, and added 13 more in the second. His 24-point first half was the highest-scoring opening 24 minutes for the four-time MVP in nearly a year, helping stake the Heat to a 60-54 lead at the break.
James made three 3-pointers in the first 7 minutes of the third quarter — he was 6 for 6 from beyond the arc at that point — and when Charlotte bit on his head fake from the top of the key, James coolly found Douglas to set up another 3. An tip-in by James followed not long afterward and just like that, the lead was up to 83-63.
Charlotte scored the next six points, but any notions that the game was slipping from Miami's control were quickly extinguished.
James scored the next six himself, a pair of three-point plays to restore the 20-point edge and give him 43 points, already a season high. He went on to score 18 more before the game ended.