LeBron James is no stranger to negative press and building ill-will among fans. The vile that built after he left Cleveland to join the Miami Heat was on par with the disgust felt by the Seattle Sonics fans that actually had a team ripped out of their city.
James decided to voice what many competitors may think but are astute enough to keep inside their own heads.
"I want to be the best of all time. It's that simple." Those were the words, as shared by ESPN, that are giving fans pause.
SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 27, 2012
No, Mr. James, it isn't that simple.
There are still a lot of fans and analysts that just don't like you and will look for any excuse to take their own shots.
The "best of all time" would never quit on his team and start over. "LeBron says goal is 'to be the best of all time' " espn.go.com/nba/truehoop/m…— Bob Frantz (@FrantzRants) October 27, 2012
Despite the Cleveland sentiment, James has made strides to repair his image.
His part on the 2012 gold-medal winning "Dream Team" helped bridge some of the gaps he'd created in the basketball fanbase.
So much for that.
The problem is for all that James does right, he continues to miss the mark with a large percentage of the fanbase. Reaching the pinnacle of the sport needs to be about winning championships. I'll even allow a goal of amassing MVP trophies.
But players have to also be respected.
There still isn't a total consensus on Michael Jordan owning that reputation, but his love and dedication to the game, along with his persona and likability, make it easy to apply that moniker.
After an extended offseason in 2011, James opted to not really have one in 2012.
He left the NBA finals with a championship, the season MVP and Finals MVP crowns. He then rolled right into preparing for and playing in the Olympics, where he won his second gold medal.
He was humanized in London, along with Kobe Bryant and the balance of the Dream Team, as they took the time to enjoy the experience and support their fellow athletes in their endeavors.
Fans saw a glimpse of the selfless player his teammates speak of, such as the comments Heat forward Rashard Lewis shared in an Associated Press report on ESPN.com.
LeBron is very talented on the court and he's probably the best player in the NBA. But I don't think people know his personable side. He's a great guy, loves his teammates, is very sharing, is always bringing gifts into the locker room for his teammates.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
He's a funny guy, a class clown, but when he steps on the court he's all about the game.
That is the side fans need to see if James is going to rise through the ranks of NBA royalty and become the all-time king.
The frustrating part of the situation is James is doing what he needs to be the best possible basketball player possible. Nobody can question his work ethic or preparation to help his team win another championship.
He dedicates himself to improving his craft in the gym and in the weight room.
After the Olympics he took off about enough time to get stateside and was back to training. His fitness level and performance at the start of camp was on par with where he stood during the summer.
James needs to let his play do his talking. History will be written by the fans and media, and his comments will have little impact on where he stands in the mercurial hierarchy of superstars.
My opinion: Lebron James will end up being the best all around player in NBA history.— Daniel ➰ Goodwin (@iRepNike) October 20, 2012
Does King James have the chance to prove he's better than Kobe or Michael, Wilt and Magic? Certainly.
But the key is to give us something to talk about, not to do it yourself.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.