Kyrie Irving’s relationship with LeBron James has (mostly) been a third-rail topic for the All-Star guard since he joined the Boston Celtics.

But Irving decided to let his guard down a bit Tuesday.

During a media session at the Celtics’ training facility, a reporter asked Irving if it was difficult being James’ “lieutenant” on the Cleveland Cavaliers and “next in charge” to the superstar forward. In months past, Irving may have batted that question away, but he opted instead to reveal his mindset when James returned to Cleveland in the summer of 2014.

“I didn’t really see it as that, man,” Irving said, via CLNS Media. “I honestly just saw it as a point in my career in which I needed to learn and grow. I took as much knowledge as I could, and I moved on with my career.”

” … I think the biggest thing is … I had to learn a lot about the game of basketball. Being with ‘Bron, and being with Mike Miller and James Jones — being around the veterans like that was one of the first time I went from being one of the youngest to one of the oldest.

“So, whether it was a┬álieutenant, sergeant, whatever you want to call it to ‘Bron, I think that being around him and his basketball knowledge as well as all the other veterans that complemented us at that time was something I needed.”

To be clear, Irving has lauded James in the past, crediting the transcendent talent for helping him evolve as a player. It simply got to a point for the young guard where he wanted to escape James’ shadow and make a name for himself somewhere else.

Irving also hinted at that notion Tuesday, noting on several occasions he never was going to be the “face” of the Cavs.

“I wasn’t the face of the franchise,” he said. “They made that very clear. I was just a great piece in Cleveland — which I gratefully accepted.”

Irving later added, “They weren’t giving me the keys to the franchise,” a possible nod to James claiming he was, in fact, ready to “give the keys” to Kyrie before he requested a trade in the summer of 2017.

In any case, it sounds like the 26-year-old is comfortable enough in Boston to discuss his past — as noted by his long-term commitment to the C’s before the 2018-19 season even began.

Click here to watch Irving’s full interview, and skip to 4:13 to hear his comments about James.

Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images