LeBron James doesn't usually get a lot of recognition from older players for the impact he has had on the game. James is considered one of the greatest players of all time, but many legends of the game believe that he would not be as successful in the NBA during their time.
But Larry Bird actually had a lot of kind words for James, especially in 2012. In an interview with Bill Simmons, Bird called LeBron James the best player in the NBA, and that he was in a league above everyone else. Clearly, Bird had a lot of respect for James even then.
"LeBron James is by far our best player in this league. I don't think there's really anyone next to him. I think he's there [top spot] then you go down the list."
These comments were very positive towards James. Even though Bird had said that he would take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James at the time, he had a lot of respect for LeBron. Perhaps he chose Kobe over LeBron because at that time, Kobe was a 5-time NBA champion, and James had not won his first NBA championship yet.
But even then, Bird maintained that it would be a lot of fun to play with LeBron James. And when he said that Kobe would be a better teammate to win with, Bird clarified that he doesn't think James is not a winner, but Kobe's mindset was just relentless in the pursuit of winning.
"Well, probably Kobe, because of the fact that ... well, of course he wouldn't have been shooting as much as he does now ... but his desire to win, his dedication, to always get better, uh, and he's just, he's just tough. But, if you want to have fun, like I did with Bill Walton, play with LeBron. It would have probably been more fun to play with LeBron, but if you want to win and win and win, it's Kobe. Not that LeBron's not a winner, just that [Kobe's] mind-set is to go into every practice, every game, to get better."
James even agreed with Bird, saying in an interview while responding to Bird, that Kobe had more championships than him, agreeing with Bird's remarks.
“It’s simple, Kobe has five rings and I have none.”
LeBron has earned the respect of fellow legends. Even Michael Jordan said in 2013 that LeBron, along with Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tim Duncan were the only players who could have survived in his era.
The respect goes both ways, as even James has spoken very highly of 'Larry Legend' in the past. In 2013, James said Larry Bird, along with Michael Jordan and 'Dr. J' Julius Erving were the three greatest players of all time. So James very much revered Larry for his success on the court.
On top of that, James even reacted to a hilarious story of Bird, lauding him for his mindset, his legendary skill on the court, and his basketball IQ. So clearly, James is a big admirer of Larry Bird, and Larry also has a lot of respect for what James can do on the court.