"It's not all anger. It's not all anger at all," the NBA star, 25, tells GQ in its September issue about his feelings toward his father, who left his mother Gloria when she was pregnant with him.
"I'm not downgrading my father or blasting him," says James, who has two young boys – LeBron Jr., 5, and Bryce, 3 – with longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson. "I don't know what he may have been going through at the time. I'm not one of those to judge without knowing. I was too young to understand."
James is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, for a couple of reasons. "Without him, first of all, I wouldn't be here in this world," he says. "And then, secondly, I may have got a lot of genes from him, and that's part of the reason why I am who I am today."
There's no ambivalence when it comes to his mother, though, who raised James through difficult circumstances in Akron, Ohio. In fact, James just got a tattoo that reads, "Queen James," in honor of his mom.
"She doesn't hold her tongue," he says. "If she sees something that she believes isn't right or is right, she's going to speak about it."
His mother, James says, taught him to be humble, which was a valuable lesson during the difficult time this summer when he announced his move from Cleveland to Miami, upsetting many longtime fans.
"I know my background, know what my mother went through," he says. "I never get too high on my stardom or what I can do. My mom always says, and my friends say, 'You're just a very low-maintenance guy.' "