The evolution of unidirectional wave trains containing a wave that gradually becomes steep is evaluated experimentally and numerically using the Boundary Element Method (BEM). The boundary conditions for the nonlinear numerical simulations corresponded to the actual movements of the wavemaker paddle as recorded in the physical experiments, allowing direct comparison between the measured in experiments' characteristics of the wave train and the numerical predictions. The high level of qualitative and quantitative agreement between the measurements and simulations validated the kinematic criterion for the inception of breaking and the location of the spilling breaker, on the basis of the BEM computations and associated experiments. The breaking inception is associated with the fluid particle at the crest of the steep wave that has been accelerated to match and surpass the crest velocity. The previously observed significant slow-down of the crest while approaching breaking is verified numerically; both narrow-/broad-banded wave trains are considered. Finally, the relative importance of linear and nonlinear contributions is analyzed.