It seems impossible for any of us normal Americans to relate to someone like Lebron James. A miniscule percentage of us will ever be the very best in our field. Most of us aren't as talented as him in what we do. (If we admit it, most of us don't work as hard either.) We will never be as famous or rich or influential.
That's why our initial reaction to anyone like Lebron is to either worship them as a god or to be jealous of them. Neither is quite fair, but we can't help ourselves when forced to deal with someone so different from us.
The big problem is that Lebron made choices in 2010 that ignited the anger on both sides. Those who worshipped him felt betrayed. Those who were jealous of him were proved to be right. Everyone got to hate him. And that felt good for a while.
And now, if we are honest, we don't hate him anymore. (A few people do of course, but most of us suddenly have empathy for him -- we may even kind of like him again.) How could one decision and a perfectly written SI.com essay change a nation's attitude?
The answer is in Lebron's life story. He is a classic hero now. We are hard-wired to like any story like his. We may not know why, but deep down we can't help it.
I'd love to take credit for this epiphany, but I can't. I've been familiar with the work of Joseph Campbell and The Hero's Journey for years. I would have never put it together until I read a blog post entitled Lebron James, Star Wars and The Lion King by screenwriter Brad Wise. He shows us that Lebron James is walking trough the time tested 11-step journey of a hero. It's well worth your time to read it on his blog.