“Costa is clever and he probably picked on the right player and he got what he was looking for - Gabriel was naive in that sense,” said King, in quotes published by the Daily Star.
The Arsenal defender was shown a red card after clashing with the Spaniard during Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, and King says he would have handled the troublesome striker in a different way.
He added: "He is a player who knows what he is doing but I would have loved to have played against him - he is different and it is not something we are used to, it is intriguing and it is up to players to work out how to deal with him and how to cope with him best.
"There weren't too many times when players wound me up but when it did happen it just gave me that incentive to really shut them down and make sure they didn't get a sniff.
"Everyone is different and has different ways of trying to deal with players but ultimately you want to win the game and the best way to win it is to stay on the pitch and have a say on the result. That was my motto," he added.
King is still revered at White Hart Lane and is honoured with a chant in the 26th minute of each game - in reference to the number 26 shirt he wore so successfully.
Costa, meanwhile, has come under heavy criticism for his role in Gabriel’s sending off, with calls for retrospective punishment to be administered to the 24-year-old.
While the Chelsea striker was undoubtedly a provocateur and should probably have seen red himself, the onus remains on Gabriel to manage the situation in a better way and avoid leaving his team a man short.
The Brazilian - who joined from Villareal in January - isn’t vastly experienced, having made just 10 Premier League appearances, and it showed in his reaction to Costa’s antics.
His sending off adds to Santi Cazorla's suspension and Francis Coquelin's injury as Arsene Wenger prepares for League Cup duties against Ledley King's beloved club on Wednesday night.