The Heat, after all, feels just as much at home on the road as it does in Miami. This team's 17-5 home record is only slightly better than its 15-8 road mark, and that ability to win on the road is a reflection of James.
He doesn't just accept the hostility. He enjoys it.
That attitude rubs off on the rest of the team.
Thing is, for as much as LeBron relishes the rage when he's on the court, I'm not sure he likes it all that much when he's off it. Being booed during games? Seeing nasty signs in the crowd? He can answer that criticism with his play. But when he was criticized for that karma tweet a few weeks back, he showed that he has yet to come to terms with every part of being the villain.
You remember the circumstances — the Lakers nearly doubled up the Cavs, and shortly after, LeBron posted a message on Twitter.
“Crazy. Karma is a b****. Gets you ever time. It's not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!”
James was pretty clearly taking a jab at Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who was less than gracious when LeBron decided to leave Cleveland. But when he was asked about the tweet, James backpedaled faster than Troy Polamalu.
“It's just how I was feeling at the time,” he told reporters then. “It wasn't even a comment from me; it was someone who sent it to me and I sent it out.”
There's still a part of LeBron that wants to be liked by everyone. Being the nice guy worked pretty well, after all, when he was in Cleveland. It won hearts. It scored endorsements.
But it didn't bring him a championship.
So, LeBron is doing something different. He is playing the villain. He is embracing this role.
That's why he will welcome the hooting and hollering, the hissing and heckling today inside the ThunderDome. That's why he will feed off any negativity that comes his way.
That's why you have to resist the urge, Thunder fans.
Don't boo LeBron.