CLEVELAND – First the Cleveland fans had their say, then LeBron James answered.
James led a 16-0 first-quarter surge that quieted the boos and abuse of fans who used to call him King, scoring 38 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 118-90 victory over the Cavaliers on Thursday night.
It was James' first game back in the city where he played for seven years before leaving via free agency, angering disbelieving fans who considered him one of their own.
Dwyane Wade added 22 points, James Jones 18 and Chris Bosh 15 for the Heat, a star-studded team which has seldom played like one in going 12-8 so far.
Daniel Gibson scored 21 for the Cavaliers, who have lost six of eight and now play seven of their next eight on the road.
James had 10 more points than Cleveland's starting lineup.
Ahead by 19 at the half, the Heat poured it on by shooting 73 percent from the field in the third quarter, with James going 10 of 12 and Wade hitting all four of his attempts to stretch the lead to 30 points.
James sat on the bench for all of the fourth quarter, with dozens of security guards and police lining the team's entrance to the court and guarding against objects thrown at him. After the final seconds sifted away, he left without incident.
Until then, James frequently bantered with his former coaches with the Cavaliers and even talked to fans at courtside. The native of nearby Akron smiled while shooting free throws, in spite of what seemed like the entire arena chanting, "Akron hates you!"
The early spurt left a crowd of 20,562 with nothing left to cheer except James' occasional missed shot. He didn't miss many, finishing 15 of 25 from the field, to go with eight assists and five rebounds.
James, of course, left the Cavaliers this summer to take his act to sunny Miami. Before the game, fans peppered him with obscene chants and booed every time he appeared on the giant monitors over midcourt.
Fans held up signs that read, "Quitness" and "Play Like It's Game Five" — a reference to his Nike marketing campaign and also last season's pivotal game in the playoff series with Boston, when many felt James had quit on the Cavaliers. There were five guys wearing a single letter each on their white T-shirts that spelled out: LeBum.
Cleveland native and game show host Drew Carey, Browns icon Bernie Kosar, Indians slugger Travis Hafner and most of the current Browns were cheered wildly when, just before the start, they slowly made their way to courtside seats. Cincinnati Bengals receiver Terrell Owens even was in attendance.
By far, the loudest cheers were saved for Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who had ripped James after his decision, saying he quit on the Cavaliers during their season-ending playoff series with the Celtics last spring.
It didn't take long for the Heat to end the suspense once the game began.
Cleveland led 17-12 early, but James led the 16-0 surge that all but put the game on ice. He scored on a reverse layup in traffic to put the Heat up 19-17 at the 3:10 mark and they never looked back.
With the Cavaliers falling farther and farther behind, the fans had to content themselves with cheering each time James had a shot blocked or was called for a foul.
When he was barely bumped with 4:28 left in the first quarter by Cleveland's Joey Graham 20 feet from the basket, he flopped onto the floor. The crowd went crazy when the replay showed the former Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School star hit the deck, with lusty boos following when it appeared he might have embellished the contact.
During warmups, they booed whenever James touched the ball and cheered whenever his shots clanged out.
He hit a mid-range jumper at the 10:41 mark for his first points — and the crowd responded angrily.
By the end, though, they were quiet.