Blame LeBron’s entourage for this mess

Surely LeBron James has an exit strategy.

Surely this is all going to play out like a season-ending episode of Entourage, with Vince Chase escaping ruin thanks to the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of Ari and E and Vince’s good fortune.

There’s no way Johnny Drama and Turtle are running King James’ kingdom. No way.

Thursday night, LeBron will appear on ESPN and announce he’s re-signing with the Cavs, who stole Chris Paul via David Stern’s for-the-good-of-the-league ruling. You know it’s the same ruling that delivered Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

That’s how this has to play. LeBron and Paul will be on TV Thursday night, agreeing to join forces and knock off Boston’s Big Three, Kobe and Pau and Wade and Bosh. That’s why Paul talked LeBron into joining Twitter. They’re best friends. Paul is going to save the King.

LeBron James is not stupid.

He’s not going to appear on an hour-long TV special to take a dump on Cleveland by revealing he’s the black Art Modell. That can’t be his end-game strategy, a teary and televised middle-finger farewell to his hometown.

And he can’t be so delusional that he thinks sitting down with Stu Scott to tell the world he’s staying in Cleveland will go unpunished by media and fans in New York, New Jersey, Miami and Chicago.

America loves a winner. America will overlook the indulgences of a winner.

The problem is, King James doesn’t have any titles.

If he orchestrated this whole free-agent circus for the gratification of his ego and a longing to relive the college-recruiting process he rejected as a teenager, then he’s going to receive an across-the-country spanking that will make him wish he was Tiger Woods stretched out on a driveway with Elin hovering over him with a nine iron.

As it stands at this moment, how does LeBron James win?

He created this Summer of ’10 free-agent monster and now it appears poised to damage him.

He loses cool points and credibility whether he stays or goes … unless he lands the piece that stamps Cleveland as an Eastern Conference favorite. CP3?

I’m serious. There has to be a secret plan to bring Paul to Cleveland from New Orleans. Yes, I’m aware the Hornets have stated they have no interest in trading their franchise point guard.

But LeBron is not going on ESPN tomorrow without a game-changer, a justification for this two-years-long ego stroke.

If he does, Michael Vick has a savvier posse, entourage, supporting cast.

And 29-year-old Maverick Carter, the head of LeBron’s management team, better prepare for a media-stitched clown suit that will make Ronald McDonald jealous.

It was a cute story five years ago when LeBron fired his handlers and turned things over to three or four lifelong friends and high school buddies.

All of the cuteness disappears if veteran agents convince the media that LeBron’s entourage fell into a trap set by ESPN two years ago. The World Wide Leader started pushing the Summer of ’10 narrative in 2008 and has relentlessly milked the story line for ratings gold and web traffic.

Did Maverick, Drama and Turtle plan for the last scene? Or did they buy the hype that ESPN’s army of talking heads could clean up any mess?

We’ll find out Thursday night.

I’d love to tell you that I know what’s going to happen. But I don’t. David Stern might intervene and protect his asset. Stern might do nothing. Maybe there’s an advantage to LeBron wearing the bad-guy hat.

The problem with HBO’s Entourage is that we’ve come to expect Vince to wiggle out of every problem. The real-life entourage might not have a happy ending.

E-mail Jason or follow him on Twitter. Media requests for Mr. Whitlock should be directed to Fox Sports PR.