It was a time for contrition, a time for reflection, a time to be humble. Instead, it became just another reason for us to grind our teeth, grimace and shake our heads upon hearing the words, "LeBron James."
The spotlight should have been on the Dallas Mavericks, who had just won their first NBA championship Sunday night following their six-game ousting of the Miami Heat. It should have been on Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and the rest of the classy Mavs, who were now in the club James so desperately wants to join.
That is, until James took his obligatory seat in the interview room after the Heat's 105-95 loss on their home floor. He was asked, "Does it bother you that so many people are happy to see you fail?" And James responded with this beauty:
"Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.
"They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."
In other words, "I don't care what anyone thinks of me, because tomorrow, I'll still have my millionaire lifestyle, and all you little people will still be working on the widget assembly line."
Not only did James fail to deliver on the promise of "We're going to win seven titles," not only did he fail to show up in the fourth quarter of any game in this series, but he has displayed an alarming lack of self-awareness, going back to "The Decision" and everything moving forward.
Whoever is managing him -- if indeed, anyone is -- needs to do major damage control here. It's one thing to think such things -- he is only 26, after all, though he has been in the NBA for seven years -- it's quite another to speak them at a time and place when the whole world is watching.
There is much to apologize for here. As the series went on, James looked less and less like a self-assured "King" and more and more like a scared, unsure, tentative neophyte, seeming to want no part of taking big shots or handling the ball in crucial moments. Then again, that seemed to be a malady that infected the other two-thirds of the "Big Three," as people like Mario Chalmers -- Mario Chalmers! -- were the ones hoisting shots when it mattered most when James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh looked like invisible men.
I think there's something going on we don't know about -- either something personal (and I'm not talking about those ridiculous internet rumors involving Rashard Lewis and James' girlfriend) or a hidden injury -- that made James a shell of himself. But until we hear any hint of him revealing anything approaching a sense of self, he's going to continue to be the most reviled player in the NBA -- and maybe in sports. Quite a burden to bear, but since he brought most of it on himself, it's hard to feel sorry for him. And easy to break into a devilish grin.
Particularly if you're punching the clock at Widget World.