You know, at this point I have no sympathy for Star Wars fans (of which I am one). Episode 1 sucked, but everyone still lined up around the corner to see Episode 2, and it sucked, but behold and lo, they lined up around the corner for the third movie. Okay, so maybe Lucas dropped the ball a lot, but you still gave Skywalker ranch a gold plated super hot tub.
I think most of it happens to be place and time, lightning in a bottle, fans disappointed when it couldn't re-spark some embellished by nostalgia (as all things are in memory, that's why I refuse to go back and watch the Dark Crystal. It might hold up, but I don't want it not to...), and at the crux probably being about ten when you watch the first one. I saw Episode 1 when I was ten and have nothing but fond memories of it, but yeah, I've seen them all and each have their high points and low points. I mean there are portions of Return of the Jedi that are just painful to sit through, and there are awkward bits in Empire and New Hope. It's all kind of moot though because Lucas got to laugh all the way to the bank on the wallets of people who hate him.
That's pretty freaking brilliant now that I put it into words.