In the hangover after LeBron James’ breakup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, something interesting occurred last Friday morning: The sun still rose. Nature can be cruel that way.

In the hangover after LeBron James’ breakup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, something interesting occurred last Friday morning:

The sun still rose.

Nature can be cruel that way.

Yes, there are vastly more important things in the world other than where some millionaire jock decides to set down his gym bag, but every summer needs its shark-bite story.

Like a desperate spouse, Cavs fans have been clinging to James’ pant leg for weeks, even though he’s been eyeing the door for months. After all, he was a townie who rhapsodized about Northeast Ohio at every turn.

It stings that no amount of loyalty, love or money was enough to keep him from leaving.

But James isn’t that much different from what thousands of other talented 25-year-old Ohioans have done; namely, leave home in pursuit of better opportunity.

It’s the way he did it.

Enablers

Burning an $80 jersey says a lot about the increasing regard in which we hold sports.

In James’ case, we weren’t just “witnesses” but enablers. He did not nickname himself “King James” and “the Chosen One” or drape billboards and arenas with his own likeness.

We create Frankensteins, then want to brandish pitchforks and torches when they behave monstrously.

James was our creation, our guy, our “king,” so long as he did what we wanted.

It did not help that James’ departure was made during a ridiculous TV special during which he looked as if even he couldn’t quite believe what he was doing.

Even in an age when privacy has gone the way of the phone booth, he should have had the basic decency to tell the Cavs that the marriage was over before going public.

It was a tactless, ill-conceived, needlessly cruel exhibition that has left a bitter aftertaste in its wake; perhaps even more than his leaving.

Meltdown

Yet James’ comportment was a profile in courage compared to team owner Dan Gilbert’s middle-school meltdown.

It sets new standards for spurned girlfriends and Internet cranks everywhere. You half-expect there to be a rabbit boiling on the stove.

Gilbert’s screed redefines irony, petulance and hyperbole. It’s the kind of thing you scribble, then delete when your good sense returns.

After seven years of carrying the Cavaliers, James owes Gilbert nothing.

James alone resurrected the Cavs from the dead and made them a franchise worth owning. The team’s value increased $100 million during the James era, and it wasn’t because of “Chalupa Night.”

We love to romanticize sports, but James is right in pointing out that had he suffered a career-ending injury, he would have been dropped from the roster like a bad habit.

That’s because it’s not just a game, it’s big business.

Sadly for the faithful who cheered for James, win or lose, it’s also personal.

Charita Goshay writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact her at charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.