"No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is -- it's tough," James said, the day before his Cavaliers play the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Finals.
Los Angeles police said James' $21 million home in a plush neighborhood was vandalized early Wednesday morning with the spray painting of a racial slur on the front gates.
James' wife Savannah, sons LeBron Jr., Bryce, and daughter Zhuri were at the family's home in Bath Township, Ohio, a source close to the family said.
"We got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African Americans, until we feel equal in America," James said. "But my family is safe, and that's what's -- that's what's important."
Ali, the former heavyweight boxing champion and renowned fighter for social justice, died June 3 -- during the 2016 Finals between the Cavs and Warriors.
The next day, James sat on the same podium in the bowels of Oracle Arena and grew emotional as he said "It's gratifying to know that that guy, one man, would sacrifice so much of his individual life knowing that it would better the next generation of men and women after him.
"I wouldn't be able to walk in restaurants. I wouldn't be able to go anywhere where blacks weren't allowed back in those days because of guys like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor, Jackie Robinson and the list goes on and on," James said then.
Now, nearly a year ago to the day, James' home was the target of racially-motivated vandalism.
"I mean, as I sit here on the eve of one of the greatest sporting events that we have in sports, race and what's going on comes again and on my behalf and my family's behalf," James said. "If this is to shed a light and continue to keep the conversation going on my behalf, then I'm okay with it. My family is safe.
James said the incident "just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America.
"And, you know, hate in America, especially for African Americans, is living every day," James said. "And even though that it's concealed most of the time, even though people hide their faces and will say things about you and when they see you they smile in your face, it's a life every single day."
James said the incident made him think of the mother of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955, who gave her son an open casket because "she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime and being black in America."
This is James' seventh consecutive Finals and eighth in 14 seasons.
A three-time champion, James said he would be "focused tomorrow on our game plan and focused on these games" when the Finals start, but was upset he could not sit with his two sons to discuss what happened.
"This is kind of killing me inside right now, but my wife is unbelievable," he said. "My mother, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, they're going to do a great job of talking to them when they get home from school today."
"Because of Apple being so great, I can FaceTime them and -- but I like to do face-to-face conversations when it becomes with a situation like this."
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