LeBron blasts Tebow critic on Twitter

LeBron James fired off a sharp defense of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow late Wednesday after the former Heisman Trophy winner was the subject of stinging public criticism from former NFL running back Merril Hoge.

Tebow is battling Kyle Orton for the No. 1 quarterback spot in Denver, as he prepares for his second NFL season, with new Broncos coach John Fox claiming he is yet to decide on his starter. But his hopes were apparently doomed, according to Hoge.

"Sitting watching tape [of] bronco offense from last year," Hoge tweeted Wednesday. "Orton or Tebow? It’s embarrassing to think the broncos could win with tebow!!"

He then tore into Tebow’s game on ESPN’s "SportsCenter," describing him as "awful as far as accuracy goes," adding, "what’s kind of even more disturbing, he’s probably worse moving and running around with the football and throwing than he is from the pocket."

But NBA superstar James hit back late Wednesday on Twitter, defending the rookie’s game and attacking Hoge’s negativity.

"Listened to Merril Hoge [Wednesday] on SC and he was just blasting Tebow. The man hasn’t even play a full season and its only his 2nd year in," the Miami Heat star wrote. "Guys get on that TV and act like they was all WORLD when they played. How bout encouraging him and wishing him the best instead of hating!!"

James added, "Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL. He’s a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER! It takes time and he’ll be nice."

Tebow also responded to the criticism, but kept his words short, tweeting, "Hey Merril…… ‘ppreciate that."