(CBS) For the first time in a career that blossomed into the national consciousness when he was just a high school freshman, LeBron James is America’s most popular male athlete, according to a Harris Poll.

James was No. 2 on the list last season, and he edged second-place Michael Jordan this year. Jordan was voted the most popular male athlete from 1993-2005.  It’s been a long journey for James to capture America’s heart after a public relations misstep in 2010 when he announced “The Decision” to leave for the Miami Heat in front of a national television audience, coldly turning a shoulder to his homestate Cleveland Cavaliers, who he’d played his first seven seasons with.

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Just last week, James re-signed with the Cavaliers after four NBA Finals appearances with the Heat. He announced the decision in a first-person letter in Sports Illustrated that many agreed struck the perfect chord. That had no effect on this Harris Poll, however, as it surveyed 2,241 people last month, ESPN.com reported.

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Derek Jeter was No. 3 on this year’s list, followed by Peyton Manning and then Kobe Bryant and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a tie for fifth. Tom Brady was seventh.

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Serena Williams was tabbed the most popular female athlete.