Antonio Gates disagrees with LeBron James saying NFL owners have a "slave mentality" ... 'cause the TE says players know what they sign up for and make a great living doing it.
Of course, LeBron went off on the NFL on his HBO show, "The Shop," last week, saying, "In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality ..."
"And, it's a little like, 'This is my team. You do what the f*** I tell y'all to do. Or, we get rid of y'all.'"
When we got Gates out in Bev Hills ... he told us he ain't buying what LBJ's selling -- saying NFL players know what they're getting into when they ink their contracts.
"I don't know all the owners -- I know my owner. And, my relationship with my owner has been phenomenal. And, it's sports. You know what I mean? You get paid to play."
Gates added, "We all know what we sign up for."
As for the differences between the NBA and the NFL ... Antonio says he does hope one day his league can guarantee contracts like LeBron's -- but he still doesn't see NFL owners having a "slave mentality" at all.
"A lot of us make a really good living, man, being able to support our families at the same time. So, it is what it is."