The odd couple: LeBron James counts Warren Buffett as one of his buddies. And according to the billionaire investor, LBJ is a top-notch businessman. From the Miami Herald: “As focused as James has been on his goal of winning NBA championships, he’s just as driven off the court about building a business empire and breaking the billion-dollar mark, an accomplishment golfer Tiger Woods was the first athlete to achieve. ‘You have to get to know him,’ Buffett said. ‘LeBron’s not initially really talkative. He’s savvy. He’s smart about financial matters. It’s amazing to me the maturity he exhibits. I know that if I had been famous at that age, I would have had trouble keeping my feet on the ground.’ Those are pretty big compliments coming from Buffett, the world’s leading investment guru, who at 82 could easily be the grandfather of James, 27. Yet the age difference and James’ lack of a college degree haven’t been a barrier to a friendship that includes Buffett providing occasional business advice. Buffett isn’t the only high-profile executive James counts as a friend. You’ll find him in the company of people as diverse as Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, Hollywood producer Tom Werner, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and music mogul Jay-Z. It was actually James who introduced Heat owner and Carnival Chief Executive Micky Arison to Ballmer. At an investment conference a few years ago attended by chief executives from some of the largest Fortune 500 companies, Buffett says his friend James could more than hold his own. ‘People were more interested in meeting him than in meeting me,’ Buffett said. ‘He doesn’t need me to introduce him, that’s for sure.’ [...] James was the fourth-highest paid athlete in the world last year with an annual income of $53 million — a number that would have been 20 percent higher without the salary cut for the strike-shortened season, according to Forbes. The majority of Lebron’s earnings — $40 million — comes from endorsements and business contracts with a high-profile roster that includes Nike, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.”