By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 30, 2002 01:00 AM

Fame did not come easily to Eminem. Neither, it turns out, has dealing with it.

“It’s almost to the point where I truly believe I may be getting too big for my own good,” the Grammy winner, 30, told the Detroit Free Press. “And I never really asked for that.”

This past year, his album, “The Eminem Show,” sold 7.4 million copies, and the soundtrack from his movie “8 Mile,” which did very well at the box office, sold 3.5 million.

“Looking back at this year? I really haven’t thought about it,” he went on to tell the paper. “I never really stop to look back on things and reflect on them. I keep ’em on the head, but I’m concentrating on next year more than anything.”

He reportedly spends long hours during the day producing at a suburban Michigan studio, while evenings are spent at home in Clinton Township with his daughter, Hailie, 7, and his ex-wife, Kim, with whom he is said to be reconciling after what had been a notoriously tumultuous relationship.

Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers III, says he’s abandoned drugs and is working out with weights. So, does all this mean that the famed rebel will soften his ways?

“When everyone loves you, who’s left to hate you?” he philosophizes. “The kids want something they can hold onto that their parents hate. I know I did growing up. I didn’t want to listen to anything my parents listened to.”