A new and efficient direct numerical method for the simulation of particulate flows is introduced. The method combines desired elements of the immersed boundary method, the direct forcing method and the lattice Boltzmann method. Adding a forcing term in the momentum equation enforces the no-slip condition on the boundary of a moving particle. By applying the direct forcing scheme, Proteus eliminates the need for the determination of free parameters, such as the stiffness coefficient in the penalty scheme or the two relaxation parameters in the adaptive-forcing scheme. The method presents a significant improvement over the previously introduced immersed-boundary-lattice-Boltzmann method (IB-LBM) where the forcing term was computed using a penalty method and a user-defined parameter. The method allows the enforcement of the rigid body motion of a particle in a more efficient way. Compared to the "bounce-back" scheme used in the conventional LBM, the direct-forcing method provides a smoother computational boundary for particles and is capable of achieving results at higher Reynolds number flows. By using a set of Lagrangian points to track the boundary of a particle, Proteus eliminates any need for the determination of the boundary nodes that are prescribed by the "bounce-back" scheme at every time step. It also makes computations for particles of irregular shapes simpler and more efficient. Proteus has been developed in two- as well as three-dimensions. This new method has been validated by comparing its results with those from experimental measurements for a single sphere settling in an enclosure under gravity. As a demonstration of the efficiency and capabilities of the present method, the settling of a large number (1232) of spherical particles is simulated in a narrow box under two different boundary conditions. It is found that when the no-slip boundary condition is imposed at the front and rear sides of the box the particles motion is significantly hindered. Under the periodic boundary conditions, the particles move faster. The simulations show that the sedimentation characteristics in a box with periodic boundary conditions at the two sides are very close to those found in the sedimentation of two-dimensional circular particles.In the Greek mythology Proteus is a hero, the son of Poseidon. In addition to his ability to change shapes and take different forms at will, Zeus granted him the power to make correct predictions for the future. One cannot expect better attributes from a numerical code.