Going home is always better the second time around.
At least that's what LeBron James hopes.
The Miami Heat forward doesn't think he will receive the same Haterade bath Tuesday he was showered with on his first trip back to the place he once called home. Then again, the feelings were still raw and James seemed to relish grinding salt in the wound.
"It can't get no worse than it was December 2nd," James told the Sun Sentinel. "I know that. I know that for a fact."
In December, James scored 38 points in a 118-90 blowout victory, but it was the sideshow of the Ohio fans' reaction to their former King that made all the headlines.
As James sat out the fourth quarter with the game in hand, the Cleveland crowd, which threw all the vitriol they could muster at James early in the game, continued to boo him on the bench.
But having seen the worst of Cleveland's wrath in December, LeBron instead focused on the positives of this week's trip, looking forward to the chance "to go home and spend some time with my kids, spend some time with my friends and family who I haven't seen back home in a while," he said.
James didn't get that chance in December, as the Heat hosted the Detroit Pistons the night before their game in Cleveland.
LeBron's teammate, Chris Bosh, pointed out another key difference between the two trips to Cleveland: outside of Cleveland and Miami, no one seems all that interested in tomorrow's game.
"I couldn't even watch TV" before December's game in Cleveland," Bosh remembered. "Every channel, they had a special about LeBron going back to Cleveland. But it's a little bit different this time."
By little different, he means the Cavs are enduring one of the worst seasons in NBA history and the Heat are poised to make a serious run at the title.
After the December demolition at the hands of LeBron's new superfriends, Cleveland didn't win again until the middle of February.
Not that the Heat don't expect Cavs fans to let them hear it on Tuesday.
"We're expecting shenanigans," Bosh said.
Sometimes a little hate from the opposing fans can be a good thing.
Dwyane Wade, perhaps trying to bait Cavs fans, tweeted this afternoon, "I wanna send my love to the HATERs in the world. Thank you."
The haters in Cleveland may not reciprocate D-Wade's love, but they may want to think twice before giving the Heat too much hate-fuel.
David Hill is a Miami native and former owner of a youth replica Rony Seikaly jersey.