LeBron now sixth-most unpopular athlete

LeBron James is bringing his talents to South Beach — and unfortunately his reputation as well.

The new Miami Heat star’s popularity has plummeted since leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers, with only 14 percent of the general population viewing the 25-year old as a positive figure, according to new "Q Score" research Tuesday.

In January some 24 percent saw him in a positive light.

But that was before the brouhaha of this summer’s NBA free agency, when James publicly proclaimed he was leaving the Cavaliers in a much-criticized primetime special airing on ESPN.

Now, 39 percent of the general population views James negatively, compared to 24 percent for the average sports personality.

“It all seems to be related to the way he handled his decision on ESPN,” Q Score executive vice president Henry Schafer told NewsCore. "It clearly was perceived as a selfish thing on his part."

Even worse for the Heat, James’ toxic aura is dragging down the team’s other stars. New arrival Chris Bosh, an All-Star forward, is seen as a negative figure by 35 percent of respondents, up from 21 percent in January when he played for the Toronto Raptors.

"This is the biggest drop I’ve ever seen for an athlete when an anti-social behavior wasn’t involved," Schafer said, referring to problems faced by other sports stars like substance abuse, adultery and rape charges.

All in all, James is now the sixth-most disliked sports personality, trailing Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Kobe Bryant.