Kobe really didn't become a villain til the rape case and Shaq trade. His younger days his popularity was mostly overshadowed b/c of Allen Iverson and the fact he was viewed as trying copy Jordan's swag. In some ways he did. It wasn't til the after the dust settled from the rape case, Shaq being gone did you get the "[expletive] all of yall" Kobe aka the Black Mamba we all love and some just despise. When AI became popular he was pretty much every young fans fav player.
Lebron pretty much picked up where AI left off as far as young generation fans. There are still a lot of people who dont care for him.
I'm a Kobe fan till I die and will never understand why Lebron got all the love and constantly praised by the media while Kobe was painted a villain for a majority of his career.
With that being said, Lebron is easily the most amazing physical specimen in basketball history if not the greatest athlete since the turn of the century. If you can get the best player in the NBA, you do it.