“The worst thing that happened to Obama is he’s lost a lot of his aura. Even his friends think he’s thin-skinned and a bit highfalutin,” he said.

It’s the sort of complaint that comes to the fore in background conversations with lawmakers, lobbyists and veterans of previous administrations who interact with Obama’s West Wing staffers: that they’ve created a cult of personality around Obama, having followed their boss on his rapid and improbable ascent to the presidency. Many of these devotees do, indeed, feel that he is the political equivalent of NBA phenom LeBron James. The view is based on a belief that Obama’s outsized political skills and uncommon personal poise make him different than conventional politicians and immune to conventional political laws of gravity.

One Obama insider said it is a view that starts at the top. Having triumphed over an early perception by political insiders and many journalists that he could not defeat frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama, this person said, frequently invokes the 2008 experience and what he believes was its lesson — always stay the course, don’t be distracted by ephemeral controversies or smart-set importuning for a change of direction.

Some believe this is an admirable instinct carried to a dangerous degree.