by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

One could make the argument that, barely a month in, this is (and will remain) the most highly-anticipated game of the NBA’s regular season.

Everyone — from fans, media, teammates, players on other teams; hell, even baseball players — is looking forward to seeing how Cavs fans will react, and how LBJ will handle matters once the venom starts flying.

LeBron’s first game back in Cleveland this Thursday promises to be an emotionally-charged affair, and James knows it.

The Miami Herald has the quotes:

LeBron James is bracing for Thursday’s hostile return to Cleveland, which Dwyane Wade said “is going to hurt him in a way” emotionally.

James said Tuesday the animosity “is going to be tough” to take. “I’m ready for whatever response I’m going to get. It’s going to be very emotionally draining for myself. Being in a different uniform, it’s going to be kind of weird. I give a lot of thanks to that city and those fans to give me the opportunity to showcase my talent and grow from a young boy to a man.’

Dwyane Wade warns LeBron not to try and do too much during game, and promises to help out with the traditional powder toss if need be.

On the Cleveland end of things, though they’ve taken additional measures to ensure the safety of everyone in the gym on Thursday, things seem to be a lot looser, and there are signs that the Cavs are ready to have fun with the circus-like atmosphere.

Some have suggested for LeBron James to embrace the villain role, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen. He’s not the type to relish hatred from opposing fans, something that will make his return to what used to be home that much tougher.