CLEVELAND — LeBron James is done bowing to Sir Charles.
After he was criticized last week by Charles Barkley for questioning the Cleveland Cavaliers’ front office, James tore into the former NBA star-turned-TV commentator after a loss Monday to the Dallas Mavericks. James not only countered what Barkley said about him, but he also attacked Barkley’s character for some off-the-court missteps.
‘‘I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,’’ James told ESPN. ‘‘I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.
‘‘All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.’’
Barkley never has been one to hold back his opinion about James or any other player, but he was particularly critical of James’ complaints last week about whether the Cavaliers’ front office was satisfied with one title.
Barkley said James was ‘‘whiny’’ and ‘‘inappropriate’’ and wondered about his motives. Barkley called James ‘‘the best player in the world’’ but questioned whether he really wanted to compete.
James initially dismissed Barkley’s comments but eventually decided he couldn’t let them go.
‘‘He’s a hater,’’ James said. ‘‘What makes what he says credible, because he’s on TV? I know he wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can’t. He’s stuck up on that [TNT] stage every week.’’
James also said if Barkley wants to continue any discussion, he knows where to find him.
‘‘If this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule’s out there,’’ James said. ‘‘He knows every road arena I’ll be in. Don’t just come up to me at All-Star [Weekend] and shake my hand and smile.’’
In a segment on ESPN Radio, Barkley said he stands by his criticism of James.
‘‘I stick by what I said; I’m not going to make this personal,’’ Barkley said. ‘‘I’m good and I’m straightforward. I’m never going to get personal on an NBA player.’’
When asked whether he thought James crossed a line, Barkley said that it was a case of shooting the messenger and that he had no issues with James’ remarks.
‘‘I was laughing,’’ Barkley said. ‘‘Clearly, he did some homework. He Googled me and found some things. He was young when I was playing, so I appreciate that, but I’m not upset about it. My criticism was fair, and I’m good with that.’’
The Cavaliers have been struggling lately. Kevin Love has been dealing with back spasms, and J.R. Smith remains sidelined with a broken thumb. But James insisted they just have to play better and vowed not to let anyone criticize him.
‘‘I’m tired of biting my tongue,’’ James said. ‘‘There’s a new sheriff in town.’’