Can be a bit of a problem in a story. Structural -- you need to build.
Not so much in a story starting out a first level and building up. While all the encounters would be potential death for the characters, the consequences would be broader and broader. When the kingdom is threatened, the tension will build.
On a single dungeon crawl, meeting up with kobolds -- even those with masterful tactics -- by adventurers who can reasonably take down a dragon needs careful handling to make it a plot incident and not a waste of time.
Or maybe I just need to punch up the earlier encounters by adding more monsters. Enough will give even champions problems.