“I'm not going to let one individual, no matter the power, no matter the impact he or she should have, ever use sport as a platform to divide us," James told reporters during NBA Media Day.

“He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country," James said of Trump. "He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the president of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement.

"The people run this country, not one individual."

Last Friday, Trump used a campaign podium in Alabama to attack NFL star Colin Kaepernick, whose silent protest against racism and police brutality -- where he 'takes a knee', or kneels, during the national anthem before games -- has become a national phenomenon that has inspired many other athletes to follow suit, while sharply dividing public opinion.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. He’s fired. He's fired!'" the president yelled in the microphone to roaring applause from his supporters.

Trump went on to say he believes that one of the owners -- who are "friends of mine, many of them" -- would eventually do it.

"They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person in the country for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in the country," he said.

He quickly faced backlash from players, active and retired alike, and on Sunday, more than 200 NFL players knelt, sat, locked arms during the national anthem before games, or even completely avoided standing on the pitch, triggering another Twitter rant by the Commander-in-Chief.

Kaepernick remains a free agent after not renewing his contract with the San Francisco 49ers last March. Many of his supporters believe he is being blackballed by the NFL ownership.

"I salute Colin Kaepernick for being as powerful as he was, and being the one that had to fall on the sword unfortunately, and I hate that," James said. "I wish I owned an NFL team right now; I'd sign him today."

The latest comments by James came after Trump rescinded an invitation to 2017 NBA champion Stephen Curry for a traditional Oval Office ceremony after he publicly announced that he did not want to go to the White House.

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating; therefore, invitation is withdrawn!" Trump tweeted.

James -- considered among the greatest players in NBA history -- defended Curry, whose Warriors defeated LeBron's Cavaliers in the 2015 and 2017 Finals, with a harsh tweet that was liked over a million and a half times.

"U bum," James wrote. "@StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!"

Anadolu Agency