Is Miami Heat superstar LeBron James really the 'easiest target in sports'?

Lebron James - Laughing

The Miami Heat star reacted to the criticism he received after leaving Game 1 with cramps.

LeBron James is used to media backlashes. After his infamous televised 'Decision', the four-time MVP was bombarded with criticism and was voted the second-most hated player in the NBA.

When the Heat lost to the Mavericks in 2012 in their first Finals trip with James, their star was branded a choker who faded in crunch time and who did not have the heart to win a title.

Now, even as a two-time champion making his fourth consecutive Finals appearance, James is having to respond to criticism in the media, this time after cramps forced him out of Game 1 against the Spurs and the Heat lost in his absence.

"I know I'm the easiest target that we have in sports, I'm aware of it," James said told ESPN's Michael Wilbon. "I really am. I believe it."

"I can't play the game of basketball and live my life on what other people expect me to do or what they think I should do, that doesn't make me happy,"

He added. "What makes me happy is being able to make plays for my teammates, to be able to represent the name on the back of my jersey. That's what makes me happy. What everybody else thinks? That doesn't really matter to me."

The criticism is certainly unjust in this instance. James has long suffered with cramping issues – the only apparent weakness in his incredibly athletic body – and he needed 2½ bags of intravenous fluid after the game.

However, it is tough to say that LeBron is sport's easiest target at this point in his career.

While he endures more than his fair share of hits in the media and from fans, his success over the past few years means he can no longer be targeted.

Any over-the-top criticism can be brushed off by pointing at his two NBA titles and four MVP awards, and people are far more level-headed with their assessment of him now.

In fact, a far easier target would be a player with great ability but who, unlike James, is yet to live up to it. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, for example, who is routinely disparaged every time he throws away a game in the fourth quarter.

SEE ALSO: PICTURES: #LeBroning goes viral as Miami Heat star mocked over NBA Finals cramp

On numerous occasions James has talked to the media about how little he cares about receiving criticism, but this can have the opposite effect.

The only real response the Heat star can offer is to continue to play at the highest level, making any media knocks look overblown. Beating the Spurs and bringing home his third consecutive title would go some way towards silencing his detractors.