ESPN made its decision long ago. The "Worldwide Leader" would ditch its typical 24/7 LeBron James programming in favor of all things World Cup in late June and early July of this all-important NBA summer.

 

But last we checked "ESPN 2" still exists, and the formerly great "ESPNews" is still available in most American's basic sports TV packages. So one would have thought that when actual, real-life LeBron James news happened on a Tuesday that ESPN would have found some sort of home for discussion of "opt-out day" on one of their three stations. Nope. At noon, ESPN had Italy vs. Uruguay soccer. ESPN2 had Costa Rica vs. England. And ESPNews had first round (FIRST ROUND!) Wimbledon tennis coverage.

 

ESPN is a network that has, in the past, filled full days and full weeks with discussions about LeBron cramping up, LeBron wearing a hood, LeBron talking league contraction, LeBron talking trade deadline, LeBron talking Team USA, LeBron wearing a Yankees hat and LeBron wearing a Browns jersey. But on a day where there is real, legit LeBron news - ESPN passes and says, "na, no thanks?"

 

Still, ESPN escaped from being the true goat of American sports TV broadcasting Tuesday as Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN continued to show why they're both bit players in the sports TV game. The time was absolutely perfect for the fledgling networks to strike midday on Tuesday as ESPN had previous commitments. But around noon, Fox Sports 1 was showing replay episodes of "The Ultimate Fighter" and NBCSN had Dan Patrick talking to Dennis Miller about the Redskins name change and his days in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth 15 years ago.

 

We're 110 percent sure that ESPN will eventually make up for its glaring lack of LeBron coverage, but shame on FOX and NBC for blowing their once-in-a-TV-lifetime opportunities to own the biggest story of the year about the most famous athlete in the world.

Follow Metro Boston Sports Editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS