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Just had a similar but a little different situations
On my 99 with the same engine. Came down to something I didn't think could possibly be at fault because it would up being something that I had just replaced like 4 months ago.
Had started getting a misfire, and it would occasionally die especially when first starting and taking off. I went ahead and threw a coil and a distributor pickup on beccause they were original from new and I'd just done cap rotor and plugs like 6k miles ago. so I didn't think about those being the issue. But as it turns out I had 2 terminals arc gouged out and ate away with cracks starting to extend towards center of roof of the cap.
This was a "better grade" Napa Echlin cap.

At work, I've seen a 318 in a 2001 full size pickup, that had the whole coil terminal arced out and actually busted out of its distributor cap before. That was an original cap, on a truck with about 115k on it, at the time.
On mine, I re replaced the cap and rotor, and had them warranty out my lifetime wireset, since the plug boot on #2 and the dist cap end of the coil wire were also burnt. That wireset was on its 2nd set of plugs, about 40k on them. So far so good.
A good tune up with the better grade of parts is never a waste of time or money anyway. Just basic maintenance there.

Oh and 1 other thing/ that Haynes manual will serve you better as fire starter for a bonfire than it will serve you to fix your truck. They are almost worthless
 

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the dying while hot and starting when cooling down is a big reason to check basic ignition parts and replace if you haven't, or in a while. especially things like the coil.

sometimes (not always) things like cap rotor and wires will do the opposite... if cracked and drawing moisture they will run like $#!t (if at all) cold and straighten out as the crack dries out, the spark can follow the moisture in teh crack to ground. or if cracked terminal to terminal it can cause multiple cylinders to fire at once, the "wrong" cylinder firing will be way off in timing and fight against the one that is supposed to be firing. Not talking much money or effort... pretty easy access on these trucks. make Damn sure the base ignition is completely good before going further. Dont assume.
 

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A bad crank sensor or distributor pickup would also cause the coil not to fire even with a known good coil. And as far as having the distributor "bench checked...

these aren't the days of points and advance weights that can go bad/stick
Nothing to "bench check" on these distributors. If the pick up under the cap is good the only other way they go bad is the toothed wheel that passes thru the pickup can come loose and wobble on its plastic base but that is very rare to happen. No need to pull out the distributor housing to figure out the issue.

I'm not convinced yet that it could be the ECM causing the problem yet.

If bet that had you not ever touched the fuel pump, all that you list that happened after you changed it would have still happened just the same. And with the backfire I'm still thinking base ignition including those 2 sensors possibly being bad.
 
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