LeBron James relates to Tim Tebow

DENVER -- LeBron James and Tim Tebow have vastly different backgrounds and play different sports, but James said Friday that he can relate to the high-profile Broncos quarterback.

"I love to see what a guy can do when his back is up against the wall and everybody counts him out," James said Friday night before the Miami Heat's game against the Denver Nuggets. "I'm in that same boat sometimes."

James has forged a relationship with Tebow, the Broncos quarterback, over the past several months, talking to each other about the pressures they both face as polarizing athletes. They have some business ties as well, as both endorse Nike.

"I can relate to him a lot. I see how the media plays it sometimes and how the critics go at him," James said. "To see him prove them wrong ... he continues to stay positive and move forward. You respect that."

In August, James came to Tebow's defense on Twitter during Broncos training camp. When several analysts criticized Tebow on ESPN, James wrote: "Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL. He's a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER! It takes time and he'll be nice."

Their relationship has grown privately since then and James said they say in touch.

James, who is a well-known NFL fan, stopped short of predicting that the Broncos will upset the Patriots on Saturday night. But he did make it sound like he has a rooting interest.

"I wish him the best," James said. "I want him to play well and I want him to be successful."

Brian Windhorst is an NBA reporter for ESPN.com.