How did LeBron James forgive Dan Gilbert? “I’m a man. Men, we all make mistakes.”

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LeBron James went away to Miami and grew up.

In his letter announcing his return to Cleveland, LeBron even compared his time in Miami to going away to college. We all grow up the first time we move out of our family home — nobody is doing our laundry, we have to set our own schedules, cook (or buy) our own food, you have to take on responsibilities. That was Miami for LeBron, learning what it takes to win on the court, growing up off it.

That maturity allowed him to forgive Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert’s comic sans letter and rant that called LeBron a traitor.

LeBron said some very mature things pre-game in Cincinnati Wednesday night, before he went out and pretty much scored at will against what’s left of the Pacers. Here are the quotes, via Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

“How did I forgive? I’m a man,” James said. “Men, we all make mistakes….

“As a man, if you got a problem with somebody, you sit down face to face and you talk to them eye to eye. And you hash it out and move on,” James said. “So, I think a lot of things that go on in life or in sports with people kind of holding grudges is because they’re afraid to actually take a step forward. It’s a fine line between pride and progress, and I’m on the progress side. I’m not on the pride side.”

Powerful words.

The world would be a much better place if more people — and governments — just tried to act that way.

Of course, LeBron’s line of work means his words will not ultimately define his legacy. His play, the titles he likely brings in the coming years to Cleveland, that will be what gets discussed.

Or discussed first. But eventually his legacy off the court will come up too, and these words will be part of that. It’s not like he’s saying something that is going to instantly change society. He’s not. But really that’s not how society changes, rather it’s a million small steps by a million people. And LeBron has taken one of those steps.