Lewis: Sports royalty returns as LeBron James and the Heat visit the Pelicans

Miami Heat forward LeBron James yells at a referee while sitting on the bench in street clothes in the second half of the Heat's NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The Celtics won 101-96. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Show caption
Miami Heat forward LeBron James yells at a referee while sitting on the bench in street clothes in the second half of the Heat's NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The Celtics won 101-96. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Miley Cyrus twerked us Tuesday.

Elton John was Captain Fantastic on Friday.

Big deal.

The Heatles are in town tonight!

LeBron James and his Miami teammates, especially LeBron, are true rock stars, albeit of the sports variety.

The Heat will make its lone regular-season appearance in the Smoothie King Center on Saturday for one of those rare Pelicans games that’s a true sellout.

On StubHub, it will cost you at least $100 to get in, and that’s in the nosebleed sections.

And that’s even with the possibility that James won’t play. The four-time NBA MVP sat out Wednesday’s game at Boston with back spasms, and the Pelicans game is the Heat’s fourth in five days.

Still, fans are clamoring to go.

“It’s not looking too good for me,” said Derek Gendusa, a Pelicans fan from Kenner, during Wednesday’s game against Toronto, which cost him considerably less to watch. “I’d really like to see him play, but I can’t find the tickets I want in my price range.”

Gendusa was in that number last year when the Heat played the then-Hornets in the then-New Orleans Center.

Miami was coming off a loss at Chicago that ended its 27-game winning streak, the second-longest in NBA history. At the end of the game, a Bulls fan tried to grab James’ trademark headband. That was a no-no.

LeBron’s response was a 36-point performance in a 108-89 victory against the Hornets that featured six straight 3-pointers from James during a five-minute span of the second quarter.

That brought a standing ovation from the crowd, a good number of whom were wearing Miami gear, and an acknowledgement from King James, who raised his right arm in salute.

Gendusa said he was not among those cheering fans, even though he views James as the greatest and most popular player of his generation.

“I’m a home team guy first,” he said, “I couldn’t put up with that.”

In fact, Gendusa said, he is a big fan of No. 6.

“He’s smart, he plays every position and you never hear about him doing drugs or hanging out with the wrong people,” Gendusa said. “People got all upset when he left Cleveland, and maybe they could have handled it better. But he donated all of the money from ‘The Decision’ to charity. I’m definitely not a LeBron hater, and I don’t understand why so many people are.”

Well, maybe not as many as before.

In every venue around the league, the Heat is the No. 1 attraction. Its scheduled visits are usually sold out within hours of the announcement of the schedule. Miami’s exhibition game against the Pelicans was another quick sellout.

Even Cleveland — where the Heat’s loss to Dallas in the 2011 Finals in the season following James’ taking his talents to South Beach was billboard-worthy — is more welcoming now. That’s because James can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and Cavaliers fans are hoping their nearby-native son (Akron) will want to come home.

The Knicks, Lakers and Bulls also are rumored to be under consideration, and there’s always the possibility that he will stay in Miami, although an aging supporting cast will make anything beyond a three-peat difficult.

Whatever happens, the center of the NBA’s universe will be with him.

Pelicans TV play-by-play announcer Joel Meyers has seen it all before. For eight years he broadcast Lakers games, including the 2003-04 season, when Shaq and Kobe found the Showtime stage wasn’t big enough to share.

“That was as absolute circus,” Meyers said of the Lakers’ road trips. “It began at the team’s hotel because there would be a lot of people there. And then in the building, I can guarantee you there was always a lot of purple and gold. LeBron and the Heat bring the same buzz and excitement because people know they are seeing the best player on the planet.”

And, echoing Gendusa, Meyers sees reasons beyond his obvious talents.

“LeBron has a really good feel for things,” he said. “He’s so user-friendly and is the perfect representative for a league that’s gone global. Look at the way he respects the game and carries himself and prepares himself for every game. And he’s a great dad and husband.”

Who else would the president enlist to encourage signing up for Obamacare?

Or why, before the Wednesday game at Boston, was James conspicuously enjoying a McFlurry in the locker room? Even Mickey D’s can use a good pitchman.

To Meyers, the only player who ever exceeded James’ universal appeal is Michael Jordan.

“When I was in San Antonio and the Bulls came in, you’d have 35,000 in the Alamodome to see Michael, and they come in their Sunday best,” he said. “It was a like an Easter parade and a lot of fun. He was and still is THE star.”

Indeed, MJ occupies the most prominent spot on that basketball Mt. Rushmore that James has talked about wanting himself to be a part of one day. Hopefully that day isn’t imminent.

As one of the last direct-to-the-NBA players, it seems like LeBron has been around forever, but he won’t turn 30 until December.

So for now, enjoy King James’ greatness while he’s in his prime.

If you can, do it in person. Even if you’re a Pelicans fan.