Lebron James has been taking a lot of heat (no pun intended) from the public lately after what many have labeled “choking” and failing to achieve a win for the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. While James has been popular in news media since his days as a promising high school athlete, the recent uptick in media attention surrounding the NBA player has focused on his arrogant attitude and poor performance.

James drew criticism from fans and some former NBA players when he decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat, with Cleveland fans even burning his #23 jersey after the announcement last summer. This, along with his statement at the beginning of this season, in which he said that he would bring “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” championships for the Heat, contributed to the public’s perception of James as overconfident. His “&KingJames” twitter moniker as well as the oversized “Chosen 1” tattoo displayed across his back also have helped enhance James’ egotistical image.

Recently when asked if it bothered him that so many people are happy to see him fail, he responded with the controversial:

“All the people that were rooting for me to fail, at the end of the day, tomorrow they have to wake up and have the same life that (they had) before they work up today. They got the same personal problems they had today and I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things I want to do.”

On Tuesday, he tried to backtrack his comments by saying that his statement had been, “interpreted different than what I was trying to get out there.”

The general public is clearly not pleased with Lebron James’ behavior on and off the court. Talk about James on Facebook and Twitter continues to spread like wildfire, and the consensus seems to be that James needs to change his attitude, be quiet or win a championship in order to redeem himself. Social media, a tool he needs to better understand, has the power to very quickly affect an athlete’s career both positively and negatively. Lebron James is feeling the negative backlash of social media right now. Facebook and Twitter can be useful tools for promotion, but they are also used for nasty criticism and harsh opinions.

The same rules for traditional media apply to the social media world: if you don’t want to see something online don’t say it. It is that simple.

What do you think Lebron’s next step should be? Should he attempt public apologies and outreach to his fans or should he just keep quiet? Do you think winning a championship in the future would actually help his reputation or has he damaged it too much with his overconfident behavior?