LeBron James is finally the most popular male athlete in America

James is finally the most popular athlete in America.
LeBron James is finally the most popular athlete in America. (USATSI)

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The return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers has been quite the story over the past week. It's changed the landscape of the NBA, especially in the Eastern Conference in which the Miami Heat have gone from a regular in the NBA Finals now to not knowing how they measure up with the rest of the East. It's also now the home to the most popular male athlete in America.

According to ESPN.com, the Harris Poll has named LeBron as the most popular male athlete in America. Surveying a "representative sample" of people in the United States last month, LeBron came away with the distinction of the most popular. He had previously been the second most popular last season and beat out Charlotte Hornets' owner Michael Jordan.

LeBron James is the most popular male athlete in America for the first time in his career.

So says a new Harris Poll, which surveyed what it says is a representative sample of 2,241 people in the U.S. last month.

James, whose highest ranking was No. 2 last season, topped retired Chicago Bulls star and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who had the distinction of being No. 1 from 1993 through 2005.

James was out of the top 10 back in 2011 after he left Cleveland to go to the NBA Finals. Since that move, he's made the Finals four straight times, won multiple MVP awards, and been a champion twice. It's helped build his brand back up in terms of endearing himself to the public. He'll try to replicate that success back in his home state with a very young Cavaliers team this season. 

CBS Sports Writer

Zach Harper likes basketball. Some would even say he loves it. He's also an enthusiast for everything Ricky Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Nic Cage, and has seen the movie Gigli almost three times. He's been... Full Bio

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