LeBron James is facing criticism for probably the first time, and he can't take the heat.

You can tell that LeBron James has rarely faced criticism.


From the time that he was a huge sixth-grader, people could tell he was probably headed for the NBA. The only feedback he ever got was from people competing to come up with the best superlatives to describe his play on the court.


He went straight from high school to an NBA team in his home state and took them from an embarrassment to a contender.


Obviously, the superlatives continued to roll in. He was never featured in interviews on CNN or ESPN complaining that people had dubbed him "King James" or compared him to the greatest players ever to participate in Dr. Naismith's game.


His super summer of shenanigans where he used an overhyped television special to take his talents from Cleveland to Miami, where he will play with other players who can help him win an elusive championship continued the pattern of people describing him in superlatives - only now they were from the other end of the spectrum.


He became the worst person ever, an attention whore, a small person who can't win on his own like those great players to whom he was formerly compared.


He has never been as good or as bad as people say.


But LeBron never realized that. Somehow he never separated his public personal from his personal reality.


My first grade son recently was asked by his teacher to grade himself on 10 questions. He had to fill in a happy face, normal face or sad face about how he thought he did in these categories. I was happy with his parent teacher conference. He's doing very well in a lot of areas and is generally a good kid. But I was the most proud of his answers on that self-evaluation. Does he try his hardest all the time? Nope. So he gave himself a normal face. He may try harder than a lot of kids. But he wasn't looking for excuses. He knew he could do better and was honest. Does he work neatly? Another normal face.


But in the areas that were true, he graded himself highly. His self-perception was pretty solid for a 6-year-old.


I don't think LeBron would have done as well on that test. Now that the tide has turned and the rivers of praise have dried up, he is using his Twitter account to show the world how mean people are to him.


In one message a person wrote that James is "a big nosed big lipped bug eyed (racial slur). Ur greedy, u try to hide ur ghettoness."


Last month in an interview with CNN, James said that he felt some of the backlash aimed at him after his decision to sign with the Heat was racially based.


I'm sure some of it is. But some of it is probably because he went on national television to announce the fact that he was leaving his hometown team.


In another message James made public he was called a "fraud" and in another tweet the writer wrote "why don't u speak by laying ur head under a moving car."


If James thinks that criticism is bad, he ought to write a political column questioning Sarah Palin's unique brand of wonderful.


If he were to point out that Palin vets her chosen ones almost as well as John McCain vetted her before he subjected his presidential campaign Hurricane Sarah, he would draw true ire.


If LeBron wrote a column questioning Palin endorsing a man for Pennsylvania's Senate seat just because that candidate was running in West Virginia, he would get really harsh responses. If he wrote a column saying Palin shouldn't sign an American flag like it was some novelty item, people would really get mad at him.


I wouldn't ever write those columns. Who cares that Palin doesn't know which state her favorite candidates are running in. There are a lot of states. It gets confusing. And she should be able to sign a flag. She is a true American patriot. Sean Hannity told me so.


I learned my lesson about criticizing Palin.


Here is what one patriotic Christian reader said to me in an e-mail after one such column about when the grizzliest Mama Bear spoke words that had yet to enter the English lexicon.


"If you can call the Governor stupid than I can call you a fat, ugly f#%^&*# slob. Lay off the french fries and you might live long enough to get a little smarter yourself. There. How do you like that a$$*&#%?"


As Palin says, James just needs to "man up" and deal with it quietly.


You don't see me running to Twitter every time an idiot hurts my precious little feelings.


Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.