LeBron James is the second highest-paid athlete in the world — and one chart shows how rich he really is

  • NBA player LeBron James is the second highest-paid player in sports.
  • He's earned a total of $234 million in salary over his NBA career.
  • Still, the majority of James' net worth comes from endorsement deals.

It's good to be King James.

Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James, the second highest-paid player in sports behind Cristiano Ronaldo, has earned $234 million from 15 seasons in the NBA, according to Spotrac data.

In his rookie season, James made $4 million as a 19-year-old fresh out of high school thanks to the league's rookie salary scale. This season, his salary is more than $33 million.

RELATED: Forbes ranks the highest paid athletes of 2017

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Forbes ranks the highest paid athletes of 2017
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Forbes ranks the highest paid athletes of 2017

T-24. Conor McGregor, mixed martial arts

Salary/Winnings: $27 million
Endorsements: $7 million
Total pay: $34 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

T-24. Gareth Bale, soccer

Salary/Winnings: $23 million
Endorsements: $11 million
Total pay: $34 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

23. Usain Bolt, track

Salary/Winnings: $2.2 million
Endorsements: $32 million
Total pay: $34.2 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

22. Derrick Rose, basketball

Salary/Winnings: $21.3 million
Endorsements: $13 million
Total pay: $34.3 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

21. Jordan Spieth, golf

Salary/Winnings: $5.5 million
Endorsements: $29 million
Total pay: $34.5 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
20. Fernando Alonso, auto racing

Salary/Winnings: $34 million
Endorsements: $2 million
Total pay: $36 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
19. Dwyane Wade, basketball

Salary/Winnings: $23.2 million
Endorsements: $13 million
Total pay: $36.2 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
18. Neymar, soccer

Salary/Winnings: $15 million
Endorsements: $22 million
Total pay: $37 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
17. Tiger Woods, golf

Salary/Winnings: $107,000
Endorsements: $37 million
Total pay: $37.1 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
16. Novak Djokovic, tennis

Salary/Winnings: $9.6 million
Endorsements: $28 million
Total pay: $37.6 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

15. Damian Lillard, basketball

Salary/Winnings: $24.4 million
Endorsements: $14 million
Total pay: $38.4 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

14. Sebastian Vettel, auto racing

Salary/Winnings: $38 million
Endorsements: $500,000
Total pay: $38.5 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
13. Russell Westbrook, basketball

Salary/Winnings: $26.6 million
Endorsements: $12 million
Total pay: $38.6 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

12. Phil Mickelson, golf

Salary/Winnings: $3.5 million
Endorsements: $40 million
Total pay: $43.5 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

11. Drew Brees, football

Salary/Winnings: $31.3 million
Endorsements: $14 million
Total pay: $45.3 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

10. Lewis Hamilton, auto racing

Salary/Winnings: $38 million
Endorsements: $8 million
Total pay: $46 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
9. James Harden

Salary/Winnings: $26.6 million
Endorsements: $20 million
Total pay: $46.6 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
8. Stephen Curry, basketball

Salary/Winnings: $12.3 million
Endorsements: $35 million
Total pay: $47.3 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
T-6. Rory McIlroy, golf

Salary/Winnings: $16 million
Endorsements: $34 million
Total pay: $50 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
T-6. Andrew Luck, football

Salary/Winnings: $47 million
Endorsements: $3 million
Total pay: $50 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
5. Kevin Durant, basketball

Salary/Winnings: $26.6 million
Endorsements: $34 million
Total pay: $60.6 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
4. Roger Federer, tennis

Salary/Winnings: $6 million
Endorsements: $58 million
Total pay: $64 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo credit should read MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP/Getty Images)
3. Lionel Messi, soccer

Salary/Winnings: $53 million
Endorsements: $27 million
Total pay: $80 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
2. LeBron James, basketball

Salary/Winnings: $31.2 million
Endorsements: $55 million
Total pay: $86.2 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Salary/Winnings: $58 million
Endorsements: $35 million
Total pay: $93 million

Source: Forbes

(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
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James is currently in the middle of a three-season contract worth $100 million. He can opt out of his contract next season, foregoing a $35.6 million salary, to become a free agent.

Check out the chart below to see the progression of James' season-by-season earnings, from 2003 to 2018.

BI Graphics_LeBron James' career salarySamantha Lee/Business Insider

Worth the money

James currently holds career highs in assists per game, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage.

James has won the MVP Award four times, appeared in the All-Star game every year since 2004, and made the playoffs 12 seasons in a row, and his teams have won the NBA championship three times.

LeBron is sixth on the NBA's all time earnings list, eclipsed only by players with several more seasons played than him. Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry is the only NBA player earning more than James in the 2017-2018 season.

RELATED: The highest-paid players in the NBA: 2017-18

25 PHOTOS
The highest-paid players in the NBA: 2017-18
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The highest-paid players in the NBA: 2017-18

25. Chandler Parsons — $23,112,004

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

24. Dwight Howard — $23,500,000

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

23. Hassan Whiteside — $23,775,506

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

22. Andre Drummond — $23,775,506

(Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

21. Anthony Davis — $23,775,506

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

20. Bradley Beal — $23,775,506

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

19. C.J. McCollum — $23,962,573

(Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

18. Chris Paul — $24,599,495

(Photo by Shane Bevel/NBAE via Getty Images)

17. Otto Porter Jr. — $24,773,250

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

16. Kevin Durant — $25,000,000

(Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

15. Chris Bosh -- $25,289,390

(Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

14. Jrue Holiday — $25,686,667

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

13. Damian Lillard — $26,153,057

(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

12. Carmelo Anthony — $26,243,760

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

11. Al Horford — $27,734,405

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

10. DeMar DeRozan — $27,739,975

(Photo by Jay Metzger/NBAE via Getty Images)

9. James Harden — $28,299,399

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

8. Mike Conley — $28,530,608

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

7. Russell Westbrook — $28,530,608

(Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)

6. Kyle Lowry — $28,703,704

(Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)

5. Blake Griffin — $29,512,900

(Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

4. Gordon Hayward — $29,727,900

(Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. Paul Millsap — $31,269,231

(Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

2. LeBron James — $33,285,709

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

1. Stephen Curry — $34,682,550

(Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)
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James took a pay cut in 2011 to recruit other talent like Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat but it didn't affect his earnings much, since he was playing in Florida, a state with no state income tax.

Ultimately though, the bulk of James' wealth comes from endorsement deals. His lifetime deal with Nike is worth over $1 billion and he also makes money from Verizon, Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola, and Kia Motors, according to Forbes.

BI Graphics_LeBron James' career to dateSamantha Lee/Business Insider

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