CLEVELAND -- Could LeBron James see himself playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers again? He won't rule it out and said that if he decided to return someday he hopes the town's famously scorned fans would accept him back.
I had a lot of fun times (in Cleveland). ... I'm here as a Miami player and I'm happy where I am now but I don't rule (a return) out in any sense. If I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me.”
James qualified it all by saying he's happy playing for the championship-contending Miami Heat. But making his third return to Cleveland since his high-profile free agency departure, hard feelings seem to be thawing from James' perspective.
"I think it would be great, it would be fun to play in front of these fans again," James said after the Heat's practice Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.
"I had a lot of fun times here. You can't predict the future. Hopefully you continue to stay healthy. I'm here as a Miami player and I'm happy where I am now but I don't rule that out in any sense. If I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me."
Dwyane Wade, who helped convince James to leave Cleveland two years ago, admitted he could see James coming back -- but not in the near future.
"Anything is possible," Wade said. "Hopefully I'm retired."
James, who is under contract with the Heat for two more seasons with an option for two more, also seemed to extend an olive branch to Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert. The two have taken various high-profile shots at each other since James' departure in July of 2010. The most memorable was Gilbert's rambling open letter to Cavs fans the night James' announced his decision on ESPN.
"I don't hold grudges, I hold them a little bit but I don't hold them that long," James said. "He said what he said out of anger. He probably would want to take that back, but I made a mistake, too. There's some things I'd want to take back as well. You learn from your mistakes and move on."
James and Gilbert have not talked since the Cavs' free agent meeting with James on July 3, 2010. The two were in a collective bargaining negotiating session in New York for several hours last fall but did not speak. James said there hadn't been any attempts by either side to patch things up.
But time and circumstance seem to be closing the wounds. The Cavs drafted former Duke player Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall pick last year, as well as Tristan Thompson with the No. 4 pick. Thompson is represented by one of James' closest friends, Rich Paul. James still spends his offseason living in nearby Akron, where most of his family still resides.
James still expects to be booed heavily when the Heat play against the Cavs Friday night but doesn't think it'll have the same effects as last year.
"It doesn't sting anymore," James said. "The booing isn't as bad as it was last year so it's not even a big deal."