If I have a user's ID, what's the best way for me to get the title of that user's most recent post?


You just set the 'author' parameter in a WP_Query query or get_posts (which accepts the same parameters):

$recent = get_posts(array(
if( $recent ){
  $title = get_the_title($recent[0]->ID);
  //No published posts

(Note the 'orderby' and 'order' here are redundant because they are set to their default values, but you get the idea)

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The best way would be a custom SQL query, but you can simply use the native functions like get_posts() and that would be just fine as well;

$args = array(
    'posts_per_page' => 1,
    'post_author'    => $user_id,
$posts = get_posts( $args );
if ( $posts ) {
    echo $posts[0]->post_title;
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