It took me longer than it should have but the lesson eventually sunk in that having a reputation for being extremely able is not the same as being extremely able. I've met people in my personal and professional life who were so far from the lofty heights of their respective reputations that I suspected conscious deceit or an active public relations campaign, not to be redundant.
Conversely, there are those who turn out to be hugely underestimated. Spend time in their company and you question the assumption that the best performers will, over time, naturally rise to the top. Some pretty sharp people get trapped in life's storm drains.
Experience can foster a natural wariness when it comes to reputations, be they positive or negative. I've found that a few probing questions about the basis for the rankings usually reveals whether there is any substance. Often, the worshipful and the cynical fold when asked to support their opinions or they creep into the fog of vague defenses.
Consequently, I've reached this sad conclusion: A reputation is only as sound as the insight of its creators.