Over the past year, basketball fans from around the nation have been exposed to the hype that is LeBron James, the projected No. 1 draft choice in June's NBA draft.

Whether putting up a game-winning shot, showcasing an array of dunks or making no-look passes, most everything that James does is worthy of the highlight reel.

But his contemporaries who will play with or against him in the Capital Classic on Thursday know what to expect when they share the court with James.

Shannon Brown, who has committed to Michigan State, competed in the McDonald's All-American game last month, when he was outdueled by James in the slam dunk competition.

While he still believes he delivered the competition's best dunk, Brown conceded "he [James] won fair and square. He accumulated the most points. . . . LeBron is such a great leaper, and has the ability to create off the dribble unlike a lot of players."

What impressed some players besides James's athletic abilities was his court awareness.

Point guard Chris Paul recalled before the McDonald's All-American game that he and James designed a play on which he would score on a back door alley-oop pass.

The duo's collaboration resulted in a score on the team's second possession, when James connected on a one-handed slam.

"It's just knowing that he's got the smarts playing basketball," said Paul, who has committed to Wake Forest and will play against James on Thursday. "He's just so great because he has such a strong understanding of the game and how to make things happen on the floor."

Shagari Alleyne, who will play on James's team, got a taste of what he can expect during practice yesterday. The 7-foot-3 center, headed for Rutgers, was the beneficiary of several of James's no-look passes for baskets.

"LeBron is a great player. So is everybody else at this game," Alleyne said. "It's just good players playing with each other. I've been playing with guards like him all season long. I'm kind of glad he's on my team."

Swing forward J.R. Giddens has not been as lucky.

The Kansas-bound Giddens played against James for the West team in the McDonald's All-American game and watched as he totaled a game-high 27 points -- four points shy of the record -- 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 26 minutes of the East team's 122-107 victory.

Giddens will once again play against James on Thursday and is looking forward to another challenge with the nation's top basketball prospect.

"Playing against LeBron, you see him on TV like I want a piece of this," Giddens said. "I've been on the opposite team of his the last two tournaments. He goes out there to score. I try to go out there and score. You don't try to match him. You're just trying to go out there and have a better performance than he does. At the same time, that's easier said than done. Hopefully, we'll win this time."

The players agree that James's skills on the court are highly regarded and coveted, but the attention James receives off the court is less than desired.

"I think I'd go crazy," Brown said. "You can't really do anything with the spotlight being on you. If he tied his shoe wrong, it would probably be on 'SportsCenter.' I would want it, but I wouldn't want it. I have to commend him for doing such a great job at it."

Linaz Kleiza of Montrose Christian works against LeBron James, projected No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft.