It has been going on for awhile, just not in abundance like this. People just made a big deal about Lebron doing because instead of players waiting to be pimped and throw out like hoes by owners and GMs they took initiative. I like it because it's forcing owners to build or lose their players.
People don't like cocky motherfuckers, but they like them even less when they are cocky, rich, black, AND can back it up. Mayweather plays that villain role to get people to feed him money and watch him. I know cats who have met him in real life who say that he is a cool ass fucking dude off the camera, but when the camera is on he switches that villain personality on like a switch. He's a showman and knows how to promote himself. Add on the fact that he's on top of boxing and black and it's too much for a lot of people to handle.
And as a another poster pointed out, he's not in a rush to get into a fight with a dude who is most likely juicing his ass off. He's a smart dude. My personal favorite is Bernard Hopkins, but Mayweather is definitely that dude.