LeBrunt of Criticism: James Feeling the Heat

"The Decision" is coming.

But many have already rendered a verdict on LeBron James.

"Disgusting" and "repulsive" ego, says CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel

"Unchecked vanity," declares FoxSports.com's Kevin Hench.

Even LeBron's hometown paper is miffed.

"LeBron's ego shows entering spotlight: Even charity gesture seems to be self-serving," reads the headline of Marla Ridenour's column in the Akron Beacon Journal.

It's not just sports pundits. Fans are slamming LeBron too. Some are mocking him.

"Tonight LeBron will announce that he's plugged up the BP oil spill with his ego," reads one tweet.

The superstar's decision to turn his free agency drama into a primetime TV special was the catalyst for much of the outrage. It certainly doesn't help that ESPN is teasing the show -- "The Decision" -- with a Messianic image of LeBron, arms spread wide.

ESPN is truly bowing down to King James. According to Advertising Age, the network ceded control over the primetime ads to the NBA star - and even some of the content by letting James hand-pick one of his interviewers.

Ad revenue will go to the Boys & Girls Club of America but the ostensible fundraiser is a thin disguise for the ultimate in self-aggrandizement.

An hour-long "special" to announce where will play basketball next year?

King James may lead his new team to the Promise Land but he is currently being led by his mountainous ego.

Of course, James is a product of a nation and media machine that glorifies star athletes.

"People simultaneously complain about LeBron and enable him," ESPN's J.A. Adande correctly points out.

But the theater surrounding his announcement has overshadowed the actual decision itself - which team will LeBron James choose?

Miami might be the frontrunner and Chicago and New York certainly offer big market appeal. But Cleveland has to be in the choice, right?

After all, could LeBron actually put on a primetime special to spurn his beloved home state and the only team he has played for?

Let's hope LeBron is not as sadistic as he is self-centered.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com