The irony of LeBron's ending to the NBA playoffs is that he has worked so hard -- harder than he ever has on basketball -- on becoming a global brand.
In fact, you have to ask whether becoming a billion-dollar global brand is LeBron's No. 1 goal. Ahead of winning a championship (although that helps the goal). Certainly ahead of Ohio pride.
It makes it all the more fascinating that LeBron the Brand Manager would allow himself to mess up so royally by not shaking hands or facing the media after the Cavs' ouster.
Maybe it is a symbol of JUST HOW BAD LeBron wanted to win. But maybe it was more calculated manipulation. And maybe it was just a rare peek into the world of "MeBron."
For "MeBron," LeBron will always come first. Ahead of the Cavs. Ahead of Ohio, even Akron. Ahead of the NBA. Ahead of "the game of basketball" (ugh).
This is why I feel bad for Cavs fans who think that LeBron will stay in Cleveland -- or think he cares at all what the folks in Cleveland think. He will do what is best for LeBrand.
Perhaps why he was disappointed was because it feeds the LeBron brand that he -- the Chosen One -- would be the one to deliver a championship to long-blighted Cleveland.
But that's not about Cleveland or Cleveland fans -- once again, it's about LeBron advancing LeBron's place in the world.
It's funny how one small moment -- a snubbed handshake, an inability to answer questions about your role in a fairly sizeable defeat -- can do so much to erode the best brand in basketball.
While I will continue to marvel at LeBron's skills, I can't help but have this Saturday night thing change the way I think he should be viewed.
Obviously, in a few years it will be long-forgotten -- presuming he eventually wins an NBA title or few. But for now, it is more career-defining than anything else he has done.