James' celebrity status in the basketball world has afforded him the chance to make a difference. He founded the LeBron James Family Foundation in 2004.
"Use what you do on the court as a gift to do better off the court. Using my muscle where I got it," he said. "To be able to see a kid and bring a big ol' smile to their face, that's an ultimate for me because I know where I come from."
James has surrounded himself with people who come from the same place. Several years ago, he fired his agent and replaced him with a team of close friends, who handle the multi-million dollar business of being LeBron.
"I come from a good culture of basketball and a good culture of family," James said. "So I kind of brought that same instillment, that same blueprint to the professional level. It has nothing to do with age, has nothing to do with money or whatever may be going on, that instillment, that time of camaraderie can happen on the court, off the court, in a ballroom, boardroom, anywhere, and it helps a lot."
James' former high school teammate Maverick Carter is now the CEO of LRMR, the sports marketing firm that handles LeBron Inc. James is carefully cultivating a global brand, signing endorsement deals with heavyweights like McDonald's, Vitamin Water and Nike.
It's business -- not just basketball -- that has opened new worlds to James. He's learning Mandarin so he can communicate with his fans during his regular trips to China, where professional basketball is booming in popularity.
He's taken advantage of his celebrity status to reach out to billionaire businessman Warren Buffet for financial advice. James said the "Oracle of Omaha" called him right back, and they've since become close friends, with fellow Midwesterner Buffett taking in a Cavs game courtside.
"Uncle Warren, I call him. We've been knowing each other for about three years now and counting," James said. "We actually walked the streets of Omaha together, and it was like, 'Honk, honk, heeeey, it's Warren!' And I was like, what about me? And the big guy next to him. Who is that?"
Of course, marketing juggernaut Nike has made sure everyone knows who James is. He has released six signature shoe styles and "Nightline" caught up with him at a photo shoot for his seventh namesake shoe. The design is so secret, they took away our cell phones to make sure no pictures of the shoe leaked out.
And according to James, the shoes make the man.
"We play good if we look good, so when we go out on the court we've got to look good from head to toe, from the headband to the wristbands, the shoes, the socks," he said. "I can say our team is really stylish."
"Every single game, since I was a rookie, I've had a brand new pair of shoes," he said. "I don't actually know the calculation. ... You got 82 regular season games and usually I play about 100 games a year, so that's about 800 or 700 pairs of new shoes that I've worn in my career, every single pair."
The question now is where those shoes will make history. After this season, James becomes a free agent, which means he could leave Cleveland, a prospect that has teams -- and fans -- everywhere, salivating. There's practically a cottage industry devoted to reading James' tea leaves in hopes of divining whether he's leaving and where he would go. But if he's made any decisions, he's not letting on.