At a shopping area in suburban Westlake, a loud "No" was heard the moment after James said on ESPN that he was going to South Beach. Hundreds of people who had clamored to see the announcement turned their backs and headed home in droves.
"I'm really stunned, I never thought he'd leave," said Tom Sheehan, 15, of Westlake, who wore a James Cavaliers jersey as he watched the announcement.
"It's like we just lost a championship on the final shot at the buzzer. It's so disappointing."
Jerseys were burned by fans outside a bar in suburban Lakewood, according to WEWS-TV of Cleveland. Footage on the station's Web site shows a fan taking off a T-shirt reading "Please stay LBJ" and laying it atop a pile of burning No. 23 Cavaliers jerseys.
In downtown Cleveland, police had additional patrols to deal with crowds, but Patrol Officer Nancy Dominik said no problems were reported.
At the Harry Buffalo bar across the street from the Cavs' Quicken Loans Arena, fans fell silent as the announcement was made, with some covering their faces and looking as if they were crying. Some yelled "Turn it off" and others shouted profanities aimed at James.
Within five minutes, the packed bar was nearly empty.
At The Purple Shamrock bar's two locations, owner Frank Borally had promised to pick up patrons' food tabs if James had chosen to stay with the Cavs.
"I would have paid it threefold ... if he would have stayed," Borally said. "It's bad, it's not good. We'll deal with it. It's Cleveland, it's typical Cleveland."
In Berea, at a bar about a half mile from the Cleveland Browns' training camp, fans in Browns jerseys were asked if what James did is worse than Art Modell, who took his Browns franchise to Baltimore in 1995, where the team stayed until fans in Cleveland fought to get it back.
"No way. Lebron did us a favor," said Fred Sczerpak of Berea. "He's a loser. He turned his back on us and good riddance.
"The difference is, Modell took a team everybody loved. That's why we hate him even more."