WASHINGTON — President Trump is indulging in his favorite kind of drama – personal, aggressive, culturally volatile and entirely of his own making.

During a week in which a crucial Senate health care vote, his tax plan, the North Korean nuclear threat and Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane suffering vied for attention, Trump carried his feud with the NFL over players who kneel in protest into a new week with a fresh volley of tweets Monday.

“The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!” he said in one of his tweets.

After a day of protests against Trump in the NFL, each NBA team held a media session to promote a new season Monday, and Trump’s stance dominated the conversation, including heavy criticism from the player who is the face of the league, LeBron James.

“We know this is the greatest country in the world,” said James, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star. “It’s the land of the free. But we still have problems just like everybody else and when we have those problems, we have to figure out a way how we come together and be as great as we can be as a people.

“Because the people run this country. Not one individual. And damn sure not him.”

Despite what Trump tweeted, some said his argument had everything to do with race.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., called Trump a “racial arsonist,” saying he is using a manufactured controversy to pander to his conservative political base.

“He uses race to advance his own ends,” Jeffries told CNN.

An NFL spokesman, Joe Lockhart, defended players’ rights to peacefully protest what they see as racial inequality and police mistreatment of black males.

‘The people run this country. Not one individual. And damn sure not him.’

— LeBron James

“Everyone should know, including the president, this is what real locker room talk is,” Lockhart said in an apparent reference to the “Access Hollywood” tapes in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. Trump called those comments “locker room talk.”

Trump has a history of engaging in racially fraught battles, from spending years promoting the false story that Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, wasn’t born in the United States to his campaign promise to temporarily ban Muslims from the United States. He drew widespread condemnation last month for saying “both sides” were at fault for violence between white supremacists and opponents during clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Public opinion is mixed on whether pro athletes should be required to stand for the national anthem as Trump would like, and there’s a racial split in how Americans process the issue.

More than half of Americans, 52 percent, said in a September 2016 Marist Poll that sports leagues should require players to stand for the anthem. While a majority of whites, 56 percent, said standing should be required, most Latino adults, 55 percent, and nearly half of African-Americans, 48 percent, said athletes should not be forced.

As the criticism rolled in, Trump supporters argued he was expressing patriotism.

“It’s a perfect example of where the president gets it right,” said Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax and a longtime Trump friend. Ruddy said team officials and the media are not in line with much of the country. “It’s a win for him at the end of the day.”

Trump tweeted about the issue anew Monday night, rebutting a CNN report that the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, was displeased with Trump’s criticism. Trump referred to the network as “fake news” and tweeted that Kelly “totally agrees w/ my stance on NFL players and the fact that they should not be disrespecting our FLAG or GREAT COUNTRY!”

During a political rally Friday in Huntsville, Alabama, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired, he’s fired.”

The tweets kept coming throughout the weekend and into Monday, when he tweeted his praise for NASCAR, whose fans are predominantly white.

“So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!”

Trump’s words Friday and Saturday sparked a massive show of defiance Sunday. More than 200 NFL players protested by choosing not to stand for the national anthem. Many coaches locked arms with the players.

Around the NBA, players in numerous cities Monday said they were angered over the president’s use of “son of a bitch.”

“You can’t get more insulting than that,” Phoenix center Tyson Chandler said.

Added Miami forward Udonis Haslem: “I don’t think President Trump wants to fight any of them defensive linemen or anybody in the NFL. Probably should just be respectful.”

James referred to Trump as “that guy,” and defended his decision to tweet that the president is a “bum” – a post that quickly became one of Twitter’s most-shared ever. The name-calling continued Monday: Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal said Trump is “a clown” and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said the president is a “so-called leader.”

“I think the president brought a lot of this stuff on himself,” said DeRozan, who is American but plays in Canada. “He brought it on himself, he brought it on us as a country. … I feel no player is trying to disrespect anybody, no flag or anything like that, but we seem to be the ones who get all the disrespect from our so-called leader.”

James made it clear that he’ll continue to speak out.

“He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country,” James said of Trump. “He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the President of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement. He doesn’t understand that and that’s what makes me more sick than anything.”