They were once the darlings in pop culture circles, but now Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are heating up in a different way.
The exes got into a twitchy war of words on Instagram after Justin threatened to change his account to private after fans started hating on his rumoured girlfriend Sofia Richie.
Selena, 24, chided Justin, 22, for even suggesting such a drastic action and dropped a pearl of wisdom his way, borrowing from that old saying that if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Wise girl: Selena Gomez chided her ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber about threatening to take his Instagram account to private status – and came out smelling like a rose among his fans
‘If you can’t handle the hate then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol – it should be special between you two only,’ Selena wrote. ‘Don’t be mad at your fans. They love you.’
Justin’s fandom was then bowing to Selena’s philosophical approach.
‘Selena is very intelligent,’ wrote a fan and apparant Bielieber on the fence. ‘Justin fans are like customers into a store and the store is you.’
Warning: Justin let his Beliebers know he didn’t appreciate them hating on his rumoured girlfriend Sofia Richie who has been with him as he tours Japan
If you can’t stand the heat: Selena posted her response on Justin’s Instagram and cautioned him not to be ‘mad at your fans. They love you and supported you before any one ever did’
Justin came back with his own tart response – which a fan re-posted – insinuating that the Come & Get It star ‘used me for attention.’
‘It’s funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way. Sad. All love,’ Justin later wrote.
He followed that up by writing: ‘I’m not one for anyone receiving hate. Hope u all can be kind to my friends and eachother. And yes I love my beliebers (sic).’
Getting testy: The What Do You Mean? hitmaker insinuated that Selena ‘used me for attention’ and added that ‘yes I love my beliebers’
Revved up: Selena has bounced back nicely since her 2014 breakup from Justin; she was pictured on July 11
The beef started after The What Do You Mean? hitmaker posted a series of black and white photos of him and Sofia, 22, while riding in the back seat of a chauffeured car.
The two – who have been keeping close company in Japan during his Purpose World Tour – were seen making a bunch of silly faces for the camera.
One image showed Sofia with her hand in the shape of a gun pointed to Justin’s temple as he gave the lens a larconic grin.
Romantic stroll: Justin and Sofia were spotted on a hand-holding stroll in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday
Tour buddies: The twosome emerged for a walk at Ueno park in Tokyo on Saturday
The caption was a warning to fans to cool those biting comments about Sofia, whose father is Lionel Richie and sister is Nicole Richie.
‘I’m gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don’t stop the hate,’ Justin wrote, adding: ‘This is getting out of hand, if you guys are really fans you wouldn’t be so mean to people that I like.’
Those words caused a backlash among his followers.
‘Grow up Justin. Take responsability for things and learn from them. I’ve been your fan for 7 years now and as I can see, you’re getting out of hand, not them (sic),’ one follower wrote.
Fiery couple: Selena and Justin (pictured 2011) had been dating on and off for three years before their eventual split in 2014