by Abe Schwadron@abe_squad

Basketball has always had its share of amateur sneaker designers—from swapping in colorful laces to filling in swooshes with Sharpie or highlighters. But today, in 2012, basketball is high fashion.

No matter what you think of the crazy get-ups now prominent in post-game press conferences, you’ll agree that NBA players now more than ever are constantly aware of what they’re wearing.

And priority No.1—as always—is the kicks.

Now, thanks to Nike iD, the latest prime sneakers to hit the block are available in just about every color combination possible. You, too, can try your hand at designing a pair of Nike Zoom LeBron Xs. And once you see what’s possible, you may not be able to resist the temptation.

Customize your Brons to match your school, your rec league team, your favorite shirt—hey, even your favorite hoops magazine!

Nike granted us inside access to the Nike iD process. By “inside access,” I of course mean, I designed a pair of personalized LeBron Xs. And, I can report with some certainty that if you’re a fan of the King, the Swoosh or both, you’ll want to do the same.

So, how does it work?

The process starts simple enough, as you input your shoe size and elect whether or not to get the added bonuses of the Nike+ experience embedded in your LeBron X.

Next come the tough decisions. You’ll have to mull over an extensive color palette at more than ten different stations, ranging from obvious (Upper, Midsole and Tongue) to final touches (Laces, Lining and yes—Dynamic Flywire). Plus, Nike offers users the opportunity to personalize the LeBron X with a message or name, and accompanying number if one so chooses.

It wasn’t until after my hour-plus adventure on NikeiD.com that I noticed the “Start With An Inspiration” suggestions underneath the main design area. (Gee, that would have saved some time!) But let’s start at the beginning…

I started my journey through the Nike iD process by, frankly, going crazy.

I spent about 20-25 minutes clicking on every possible color combination I could. I created combos like ‘Atomic Green’ Upper with a ‘University Red’ Swoosh, then tested out nearly all of the 11 x 8 combinations of speckle on the Midsole. Yes, speckle.

Along the way, the iD interface allows you to twist and turn the sneaker from every angle, so you can be sure not to miss a spot—which you won’t want to do after deliberating for 10 minutes on just which hue of blue you’d like to be reflected in your laces or Nike Airbag.

I briefly considered building my LeBrons with an ode to my alma mater, Northwestern University, before deciding that as much as I love my Wildcats, purple kicks are…well damn, purple kicks?

After a dozen more variations—and speckle combos—I came to a final conclusion. With Stadium Grey as my base Upper, I customized a pair of LeBron Xs that, in retrospect, a Seattle Mariners fan might be proud of, with Navy and Atomic Teal providing supporting accents.

But the custom kinks don’t stop at the color wheel. In fact, I spent an equally large chunk of time deciding how best to put ink to leather in the options for Heel and Collar iD. A fleeting thought to add my Twitter handle to the insoles came and went (@abe_squad, by the way—follow for the occasional sneaker reports, stay for the random Washington Wizards rants), as did the option of etching “SLAM Magazine” on either side. It’s then that I heard a voice urging me to, “Keep it simple, stupid.” So I did, deciding to go with my initials AMS on the left shoe, and my home grown 301 area code on the left.

Did I choke? Maybe. But the thought of staining a beautiful aesthetic with a regrettable tag line was altogether too intimidating to take on a more risky moniker for my sneakers. (Nike does give users the option to use pre-packaged text from LeBron, like “What we do in life, Echoes in Eternity…”)

Once you’re all done, you can easily share your Franken-LeBron creation with the world via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or good old e-mail at the click of a button. Plus, create a custom poster for your desktop, iPad or iPhone background instantly.

Just don’t forget to play ball in them.