12:17 PM PT -- LeBron James just spoke in defense of Lisa Leslie -- saying Protect @LisaLeslie at all cost!"
He added, "You’re a real Superhero!! Sorry you had to [go] through that s*%#!!! We are our own worse enemies! #Mamba4Life"
11:48 AM PT -- A rep for CBS News tells TMZ, "Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview. We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made."
"I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry."
That's Gayle King going NUCLEAR on her own network, CBS, for releasing an interview clip with Kobe Bryant's good friend, Lisa Leslie, in which King asks about Kobe's rape case ... claiming CBS simply did her dirty.
Here's the deal ... earlier this week, CBS released a teaser clip from King's big interview with the WNBA star in which she asks if Bryant's legacy is "complicated" because of the 2003 sexual assault case.
.@WNBA legend @LisaLeslie told @GayleKing that Kobe Bryant's legacy is "not complicated" for her despite his 2003 rape accusation.
King received a TON of backlash online from people who claim the question was insensitive and inappropriate -- including 50 Cent and Vivica A. Fox.
In a video she made Thursday morning, Gayle admitted she's been reading the tidal wave of negative comments on social media and it's been driving her crazy!
"I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too,” King said.
She continued, "I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry."
"Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview -- totally taken out of context -- and when you see it that way, it’s very jarring. It’s jarring to me. I didn’t even know anything about it."
King says the sexual assault question was only a small part of a larger conversation about Kobe's life ... and she felt it WAS appropriate to ask that question at the time.
"We talked about that court case because that court case has also come up. And, I wanted to get Lisa’s take on it as a friend who knew him well, what she thought, where that should stand."
"It was very powerful when she looked me in the eye, as a member of the media, to say, 'It’s time for the media to leave it alone and to back off.'"
"I felt really good about the interview ... so, for the network to take the most salacious part when taken out of context, and put it up for people who didn’t see the whole interview, is very upsetting to me and that’s something I’m going to have to deal with them."
"There will be a very intense discussion about that."