It seems to be fueling both of them.
Speaking at length with reporters for the first time since the Heat acquired James and Chris Bosh to play alongside Dwyane Wade this summer, Riley revealed he thought some critics of Miami's roster moves should "get a life." He is also certain it'll be a motivating point for his team throughout the season.
"I know one thing," Riley said. "We will show up and we will play games. And our team will be ready. And I think that's the way we can answer all the critics."
Riley specifically cited Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith and former NBA star turned analyst Charles Barkley as examples of people who took what the Heat president thought were unwarranted shots at the way the Heat went about business this summer. He also mentioned Magic coach Stan Van Gundy — Riley's former protege in Miami — as well.
On the day after Miami signed James to a six-year contract that lured him away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Smith said, "I thought he was, I guess, more of a competitor."
Riley responded to that Friday, saying Smith made, "an absolutely stupid remark. He never made any kind of comment like that when he signed Rashard Lewis and he brought him down from Seattle with an $128 million contract."
Barkley went a step farther, saying James "is never going to be the guy" in Miami because he'll have to share the spotlight with Wade and Bosh. James responded a month later on Twitter, saying "Don't think for one (minute) that I haven't been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!"
Riley said he thought Barkley allowed his remarks to become personal attacks.
There have been countless other critics of James, Wade, Bosh and the rest of the Heat in recent weeks, and Riley said he's having trouble understanding the need for venom.
"I take a little bit of umbrage to some of the things that came from people in our game that all of a sudden have become the moral conscience or moral authority on the decisions that every team or some individual might make concerning his life or his career," Riley said.
Riley reiterated that he does not plan to hover over Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. Yes, Spoelstra and Riley will continue talking and strategizing, but even with the talent he assembled this summer, Riley doesn't envision becoming a teacher again on the practice floor.
For his part, Wade isn't surprised by that.
"I think he's going to sit back and watch," Wade said. "I think he has the coaches he believes in. I think he has the team he believes can do it. I think he's going to sit back and watch it unfold."
There are more pressing matters for the Heat to deal with before the Sept. 28 start of training camp, namely figuring out how all the new pieces like James, Bosh, Mike Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard all fit into place.
Point guard is perhaps the biggest point of intrigue for Miami, with Riley suggesting there will be time when the Heat play without a true one on the court — no surprise there, considering Wade, James and Miller are all fine ballhandlers. Miami re-signed last year's point guard starter in Carlos Arroyo, and has former starter Mario Chalmers still recovering from an offseason ankle sprain.
"It wouldn't be something that would be a stretch for anybody," Riley said. "Wouldn't be a stretch for Dwyane to play that position. It would not be a stretch for LeBron. LeBron was basically a natural point guard until he was 15, 16 years old. ... So it isn't something that he has to learn."
Riley said last season that Miami's plan for the long-awaited offseason of 2010 was "to build a dynasty." Step one in that process was convincing Wade to re-sign, something that wouldn't have happened unless either James or Bosh decided to join the Heat.
"We were ready for the worst-case scenario," Riley said, "and the best-case scenario happened for us."
That being said, his job isn't done.
Riley will shift his focus back to talent evaluating now, working on finding hidden gems out there, while continuing to figure out how to make the current Heat lineup better.
The summer has been about talking. Riley's longing for games.
"I'm actually bored stiff," Riley said. "I can't wait for it to start."