The decision to finally unplug Ike Davis was a painful one for the Mets, but that’s no excuse – it came a month too late. By the time he was on his way to Class AAA Las Vegas on Sunday, Davis was so broken it was no longer certain he’d ever be back.

At least that was the implied threat from Sandy Alderson, who Monday told WFAN’s Mike Francesa, “In a couple of cases, you have to ask yourself, are those long-term solutions?”

It’s the easy way out, of course, blaming the player. But it’s Alderson who kept ignoring the warning signs, failing to see past Davis’ past charms, including his long-ball power, his status as a first-round draft pick, good looks and, until recently, his popularity with the fans.

But the GM didn’t act alone; ownership was just as invested in Davis as a gate attraction. Together, no one did the first baseman any favors by letting him hang around this long, until his .160-something batting average had gone beyond infuriating. It was pathetic.

Now Davis is Wally Backman’s problem, although it’s worth asking the question that could lead to a more intriguing dialogue: What happens if Backman and his old-school, man’s-man approach actually fixes Davis? Then what?

Such a reclamation project would be more of a reflection of Backman’s interpersonal skills than Davis’ ability to hit for a respectable average. At least we know Davis has talent – we’ve seen it in the past, albeit not consistently since the second half of last season. But Backman is the wild card here, especially because he’s been languishing in the Mets’ farm system for four summers hoping to prove to someone, anyone, that he’s long since outrun his darker demons.

That’s why Backman relishes the chance to work on Davis’ swing, confidence and career, although not necessarily in that order.

“I know I can help Ike,” Backman said by telephone Monday. “The first thing I want to do is have a long talk with him, because mentally he’s pretty [messed] up. I want him to understand being here [at Class AAA] will be a relief, where he can correct his problems. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”