The core contributions of Part I (1) present a computational fluid dynamics (CFD)-based approach for tilting pad journal bearing (TPJB) modeling including thermo-elasto hydrodynamic (TEHD) effects with multi-mode pad flexibility, (2) validate the model by comparison with experimental work, and (3) investigate the limitations of the conventional approach by contrasting it with the new approach. The modeling technique is advanced from the author’s previous work by including pad flexibility. The results demonstrate that the conventional approach of disregarding the three-dimensional flow physics between pads (BP) can generate significantly different pressure, temperature, heat flux, dynamic viscosity, and film thickness distributions, relative to the high-fidelity CFD model. The uncertainty of the assumed mixing coefficient (MC) may be a serious weakness when using a conventional, TPJB Reynolds model, leading to prediction errors in static and dynamic performance. The advanced mixing prediction method for “BP” thermal flow developed in Part I will be implemented with machine learning techniques in Part II to provide a means to enhance the accuracy of conventional Reynolds based TPJB models.