Simone Biles thought that when she withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics, everyone would hate her.

She wondered, after suffering from "the twisties," whether she would compete again.

She wasn't sure she wanted to do so.

This week, Biles will defy real and perceived gravity at the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials at Target Center.

Her attendance will be a triumph, given what she has had to overcome. Her history tells us that she might be primed to reprise the kinds of triumphs that made her famous long before Tokyo.

Biles is back, and the world of sports is better for it. She might be the most astonishing athlete of her generation, which made her departure from the Tokyo Olympics so shocking, if not as shocking as the heartless reaction from so many pretend tough guys slumming in the depths of social media.

Biles, then 24, grew up in the social media age and knew well what the worst reactions could be. She cried. She feared. With good reason.

The "twisties" are like the yips in golf or baseball — an inability to perform an athletic skill because of paralyzing anxiety. Except that in gymnastics, the yips don't lead to a bad throw. They can lead to grievous injury.

Hence the name. If you're 10 feet off the ground and twisting violently and don't have confidence that you can land on your feet, you probably won't.

I was in Tokyo covering the Olympics for the Star Tribune when Biles withdrew. The reaction of seemingly everyone there — athletes, the USOC and journalists — was sympathy. The reaction from faux competitors on social media was, at least in some circles, cruel, asking why she couldn't "tough it out" for her country.

Which, if you know anything about gymnastics beyond Biles' name, is laughable. Gymnasts are among the toughest athletes in the world. The training, the discipline, the falls, the acceptance of injury risk — they're like wide receivers willing to run routes over the middle of the field while a bloodthirsty strong safety tries to knock them horizontal.

Biles has won more medals in world championships and the Olympics than any gymnast in history. She was favored to win in Tokyo, and she will be favored to win in Paris, because she attempts maneuvers and routines that no one else would dare.

This creates an aura of superiority and increases her degree of difficulty, which factors into her scores. If she performs to her ability, her degree of difficulty is so high that she's almost impossible to beat.

In terms of altering the parameters of her sport, Biles is like Babe Ruth, if Ruth had to compete against the whole world, instead of just white athletes in a fledgling sport.

She's like LeBron James, if James had won even more titles.

She's like Tiger Woods, if Woods had clearly become the best golfer of all time, instead of sharing the stage with Jack Nicklaus.

For a fitting comparison, we need to reference another woman — tennis great Serena Williams.

Williams, like Biles, so thoroughly eclipsed her competition that she can be compared only to greats from other sports.

As someone who has covered professional sports for decades, and every Summer Olympics since 2008, I've witnessed two athletic events that defied comprehension:

* Usain Bolt roaring around the curve in the 200 meters in Beijing, making up the stagger on the world's best sprinters as if they were moving backward.

* Biles, in Rio, launching herself so high during her gold medal floor exercise that she reached the eye level of those sitting in the mezzanine. I know. I was sitting in the mezzanine.

If you haven't seen her in person, think of Biles as a satellite who does stunts.

Almost a month ago in Fort Worth, Texas, during the U.S. championships, Biles won all five gold medals on the last day of competition, giving her a record nine all-around titles.

According to Nancy Armour of USA Today, Cecile Landi, Biles' longtime coach, was asked whether that was the best performance of Biles' career.

"I think so," she said. "But it's not even the skills. It's the attitude and her behavior. I really feel like she's happy to be here. I know she says she's ready to be done, but I think she's really enjoying it and appreciating every meet she gets to do. We see a lot of people with injuries, and she feels prepared and lucky to do this."