"I can't sit back and say nothing," James told Lemon.
James said he "would never sit across" from Trump, though he would talk to former President Barack Obama.
James also made references to football player Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling protests launched an NFL movement and drew harsh criticism from Trump, and to NBA star Stephen Curry, who said he would not visit the White House after the Golden State Warriors won the championship, prompting the President to disinvite him.
Melania Trump and Jordan pushed back the next day.
The first lady's spokeswoman quickly distanced the first lady from the criticism of James, saying in a statement Saturday afternoon that it appeared James was "working to do good things on behalf of our next generation" and that the first lady would be open to visiting his new school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The statement didn't criticize the president.
Jordan also jumped to James' defense.
"I support LeBron James. He's doing an amazing job for his community," Jordan said in a statement to The Associated Press through his representative via text.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe tweeted: "It should be beneath the dignity of a sitting POTUS to take racist shots at D. Lemon and Lebron James."
NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns wrote: "So let me get this straight: Flint, MI has dirty water still, but you worried about an interview about a man doing good for education and generations of kids in his hometown?"
The president's tweet came hours before Trump traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for a rally north of town in support of the Republican in a special U.S. House election on Tuesday.
"I don't have to tell (asterisk)anyone(asterisk) what LeBron James means to Ohio," tweeted Democrat Danny O'Connor, who is running against state Sen. Troy Balderson.
Ohio Gov. Josh Kasich, a Republican who at times criticizes Trump, tweeted: "Rather than criticizing @KingJames, we should be celebrating him for his charity work and efforts to help kids."