Sorry, Cleveland. Here’s the antacid for that massive heartburn. You lose again. LeBron James will play for the Miami Heat next season, forsaking the team that signed, nurtured and helped transform a high school graduate into one of basketball’s great players.

The dreams of Cavaliers fans and the star you called King James used to be intertwined. No longer. Baltimore and Art Modell stole your beloved Browns in 1996, and now you’ve lost the one athlete who could have delivered the city’s first pro championship since 1964.

Sorry, New York. For once you didn’t get what you wanted. All the shameless wooing yielded nothing but a hangover and an empty hand.

Sorry, Chicago. Live with Michael Jordan’s memories.

Don’t chuckle too much, New England. Different circumstances, but now you know what your grandparents endured when Babe Ruth left Boston.

In an unprecedented and unwarranted media event Thursday night, LeBron announced his decision to join Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami, recasting the NBA’s definition of the Big Three.

Jon Jennings, the president and general manager of the Maine Red Claws, was in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday to watch the summer league there, and couldn’t tune out the speculation over LeBron’s destination.

“I can deny the rumor that he was going to wind up with the Maine Red Claws,” said Jennings, laughing. “Seriously, (LeBron) has been in practically every conversation.

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad. Individuals make their own decisions. The kid with Oklahoma City signed his extension and no one’s talking about him. He did it very quietly and he’s here in Orlando cheering on his (Thunder) teammates.”

That would be Kevin Durant, the second pick in the 2007 NBA draft. Supremely talented, but not even he can touch LeBron’s magnetism.

Jennings laughed again, this time at a joke making the rounds about a new cell phone named the LeBron James. It can only vibrate because it has no ring.

LeBron doesn’t have an NBA championship ring. He lost faith that Cleveland Cavaliers ownership could get the talent to complement his. It was naked leverage, but Jennings understands that. You play the game to win team titles. In the end, winning individual titles doesn’t cut it.

“I’d have difficulty rattling off the last 25 league MVPs, although I’m sure someone could,” said Jennings. “You could name the last 25 team champions.”

At Hoop Camp in Casco this week, someone came to the final night’s barbecue and said he read on the Internet that LeBron had agreed to sign with the Knicks. The 62 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders seized the rumor and ran with it. It even caught up camp director Jim Ford, who’s from the generation of basketball fans who remember an NBA without free agency. He grew up in northern New Jersey as a Knicks fan.

New York was the first LeBron suitor nearly three years ago. It wasn’t difficult for Ford to start dreaming. “It’s amazing, really. Before free agency, players couldn’t move. Now free agents are assembling their own team.”

Now the tail wags the dog. The Celtics’ Big Three came together when GM Danny Ainge traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play alongside Paul Pierce. LeBron and Chris Bosh signed with Miami as free agents, joining Wade. The balance of NBA power has shifted to America’s southeast.

Any campers or staff members believe the Celtics could somehow rejuggle salary and add LeBron? No, said Ford. Not even a child could imagine that scenario.

Jennings once was on the Celtics’ coaching staff under K.C. Jones when Boston had another Big Three of Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. Today, that seems such a long, long time ago. An hour-long show just to announce a free-agent signing?

“LeBron is a phenomenal player, don’t get me wrong,” said Jennings. “I think there has been a certain amount of backlash (to how the announcement was handled). We spend way too much time on something like this when our young men are fighting and dying in Afghanistan. It’s part of our society today.”

Jennings was returning to his hotel. “I’m sure I’ll put on the television. I’m sure I’ll switch the channel when I’ve found out and watch something else.”

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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