LeBron James is one of the most successful and famous athletes in the world.

James rarely faces criticism on any front.

But now LeBron James heard two words that no one ever expected would be said about him.

Former Sports Center host Dan Patrick interviewed Hall of Fame NFL wide receiver Chris Carter on his show.

For some reason, Patrick steered the discussion in the direction of LeBron James, asking Carter if James could have been an NFL megastar if he pursued that sport instead of basketball.

Ticking off some of the great receivers of the last 20 years, Patrick asked Carter if James “Could he have been (Randy) Moss, could he have been (Terrell) Owens, could he have been Calvin Johnson?”

Carter scoffed at that notion, claiming if elite athletes in other sports could have transitioned to the NFL, 100-meter dash legend Usain Bolt would have made the NFL.

The Hall of Fame wide receiver then added that James lacked “NFL toughness.”

“If it was that easy, Usain Bolt would be playing somewhere (in the NFL). You know, all of a sudden, Dan, guys come up out the surface, and they hit you, and they say things to you,” Carter continued, “And most track athletes, they don’t have that type of temperament. And I would say NBA toughness is a different type of toughness and grit than what you need to play in the NFL.”

In the NBA, the popular new trend is “load management” whereby players take games off because playing back-to-back or three games in four nights is apparently too difficult.

There is no such concept in the NFL.

LeBron James is one of the most unique and gifted athletes in American history.

No one will dispute his talent.

But players specialize in sports for a reason.

And it is a fool’s errand to play the “what if?” game to hypothesize if James, whose body is starting to break down as he suffered multiple injuries the last several seasons, could have stood up to the rigors of the NFL.

Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments in this ongoing story.