Midwesterners are raised to believe that one’s loyalty should be reciprocated, so we have more trouble than most with the idea of sports being a business.

An Akron-based marketing group has erected a $3,000 billboard on state Route 18, not far from LeBron James’ home in Bath, effectively telling its native son where to go.

One of many that have sprouted up along the Akron-to-Cleveland corridor, the Omada Group’s “Welcome Home, LeBron” billboard boasts a red “X” over the word “home” and poses the question “How Does it Feel to be a Sidekick?”

Me-ow.

The billboard clearly was timed to jab James upon his return to the area this week for his annual “King for Kids” charitable bicycle event.

Unlike in past years, James isn’t expected to ride the full distance.

Well, no kidding.

The Omada Group’s billboard also includes the phase “Go, Cleveland!” but I don’t know — wouldn’t it have just been better to leave it at that?

Even the most casual fan knows the waylaid Cavs need all the good wishes they can get. By having to share the space with an insult, “Go Cleveland!” just seems, well, like an afterthought.

Chagrined

A recent Sports Illustrated story titled “Chagrin Boulevard” includes photos of jerseys aflame and a Miami Heat fan being escorted from Progressive Field for his own safety, and notes that Clevelanders still are reeling in pain from what they see as a colossal betrayal by one of their own.

I get that. I’ve been a Browns fan since I was 4, so don’t talk to me about unmitigated suffering.

But it’s doubtful the billboards will bother James much because athletes have to develop a short memory. Those who can’t shake off missed shots, bad calls and insults become head cases.

We tend to love sports because each season presents us with a freshly washed slate — newborn reasons to hope. But every now and then, an incident arises that simply can’t be forgotten like a fumbled football.

Dead horse

When it does, fans have no such interest in mastering the gracious art of forgetfulness. In fact, flogging a bad sports moment like a dead horse is part of the fun of it.

Midwesterners are raised to believe that one’s loyalty should be reciprocated, so we have more trouble than most with the idea of sports being a business.

It helps to explain why someone might spend $3,000 on a hissy fit, and why James’ open letter, published in the Beacon Journal on Tuesday, won’t assuage them.

It would be nice to think that a billboard might help James realize just what he’s left behind, that it could spur him to return to his kin and kind some day like a penitent spouse, humbled but wiser.

It would be nice because the actual truth has been a hard thing to take.

Contact Charita Goshay at charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.