The top-shelf edition of Nike’s new LeBron X shoe carries a list price of $315.00, a sum CBS’s Gregg Doyel (above) finds discouraging.  James, ‘still uses kids as pawns, whether it’s the Boys & Girls Club he held up like a human shield when he went on national television to announce he was taking his narcissism to South Beach — or whether it’s this. Shoes most of his young fans can’t afford.” Presumably LeBron’s allowed to hawk products to adults, too?

Poor kids are gonna find a way to buy the $315 LeBron X. Some of them, the dorks and losers, will settle for the $180 brand that doesn’t come with the bells and whistles and street cred of the most expensive version, which will apparently tell a kid more than his quickness or vertical leap. The $315 version will also tell a kid he’s cool, he’s secure, he’s valuable because he’s wearing shoes that other kids want.

And there’s merit in that, come to think of it. Self-esteem at any age is valuable, but for a kid it’s priceless.

But LeBron is willing to put a price on it. Your self-esteem is worth $315, check payable to Nike, royalties due to King James.

LeBron is trading on the most vulnerable part of his fan base: their self-image. He knows there are kids out there who will do whatever it takes to slip their feet into the same shoes worn by LeBron. How does a poor family, the kind of family in which LeBron grew up — born to a single mother, LeBron and his teen-aged mom moving from apartment to apartment, LeBron spending chunks of time with other relatives because his mom couldn’t feed him — scratch up the three bills for a pair of LeBron X shoes?

By “poor kids are gonna find a way”, I sincerely hope Doyel is referring to paper routes and mowing lawns. Because if he’s suggesting even for a second that James oughta be held accountable for inspiring criminal acts, let’s review for a minute some of the items hawked by other celebrity pitch-persons ;

Derek Jeter – Ford Focus ($15,650.00)
Michael Phelps – Omega Seamaster Watch ($3450.00)
Peyton Manning – Sony Bravia 55″ flatscreen ($1810.00)

Of course, no one has ever committed a crime or spent beyond their means in the pursuit of automobiles, jewelery or high-ticket appliances. I don’t know if you’ve seen the stats, but almost 99% of all violent crimes in this country are sneaker-related (source : Phil Mushnick, NY Post).