If LeBron James feels like the world  has been picking on him since his ill-fated, ill-advised, decision to sit on a captain’s chair with Jim Gray and profess he was taking his “talents to South Beach” in July, there’s good reason.

Because the world has been.

At the beginning, it just seemed like LeBron was just taking the easy way out.  He was going to Miami to join Dwayne Wade’s team and try to glom onto something and let the championships roll in.

Only now, with the Heat just three losses away from eliminating any folly that they could make a run at the Chicago Bulls’ all-time record of 72 wins in a season, it’s getting worse for him.

There was no doubt that LeBron spent seven seasons in Cleveland with the Cavs walking on egg shells and trying to accommodate his every whim.  But there was a reason for it.  He’s a great player and from day one he had them by the short hairs.  They had to make him happy or he could leave after four years as a free agent.  When he re-upped, he did it for three more years and the coddling continued.

But what was it hurting?  LeBron was setting a new standard on the court with his play.  Nobody his size had ever had his speed or his all-around ability.  He could be breathtaking to watch.  If you were ever going to kiss a guy’s ass, this was the guy and his was the ass to kiss.

And then he left for Miami and Cleveland was angry and confused and betrayed.  The world looked at Cleveland with the same combination of pity and annoyance that we always save for Cleveland, and Gary (maybe even former Miami running back Cleveland Gary).  Sucks to be you, we all thought.

And we assumed that LeBron and Wade and Chris Bosh would just stamp out a trophy case full of Larry O’Brien trophies.  Maybe they still will.  Maybe they won’t.

Cynics look at the team and have the same complaints a) Bosh is a pussy, b) Wade’s body is breaking down, c) LeBron and Wade do the same things and both need the ball all the time, d) the rest of the team blows.

Optimists figure talent will find a way and that they’ll figure it all out.

Maybe they will.  And whether the Heat crank it up and go 62-20 and win the title, or sputter and finish 48-34 and get bounced in round two, neither will make this mash-up any less awesome.