Though James is the one who supposedly “betrayed” Cleveland, in this instance he’ll be the one with trust issues. For the Cavaliers, re-signing LeBron would be an amazing coup. The team would be an instant championship contender, and Gilbert’s coffers would spill over with added revenue. Cha-King!
By contrast, if LeBron goes back to the Cavaliers, he would have to sign a long-term contract that would lock him in to a committed relationship with the team and the owner. Given the bitterness of the previous split, it seems likely that this would be a till-retirement-do-us-part situation—LeBron won’t have to go through this craziness again. James, then, would have to trust that a franchise that has a proven track record of failure and poor decision-making would reverse its course. The only reason the Cavaliers were any good during the LeBron James era is that they were so bad that they lucked in to drafting LeBron James. The only reason the Cavs have a semiappealing young roster now is that they’ve been so bad in the post-LeBron era that they’ve “earned” three of the last four No. 1 overall draft picks. (And it’s looking like they screwed up at least one of those selections.)
Just as important, James would have to go in to business with someone who’d behaved as if his move to Miami in free agency had been a betrayal on the order of surrendering West Point to the British. And this someone still seems to believe that fanning the flames of LeBron hatred was the right thing to do.