So my paladin hit level 80 this weekend, after 10 days and 4 hours of /played time, just under 250 hours from level 1 to 80. When he dinged he was wearing full iLvl 187 blue gear from his blacksmithing profession, which is actually better than anything you can find in normal dungeons. Then I proceeded to smith the iLvl 200 epics, but it became obvious very fast that my dual spec choice up to that point, protection and retribution, wasn't going to work at level 80: Nobody wants a tank that isn't extremely overgeared, and I could barely reach the defense cap. Thus change of strategy, and I went for holy / retribution, because I thought that for a healer gearscore mattered less, healing in heroics being so easy.
It also happened that I had picked up earlier the two recipes for the iLvl 245 Sunforged chest and bracers for holy paladins. Thus I had two iLvL 245 pieces, and three iLvl 200 epics (helmet, boots, weapons) just from blacksmithing. Then I went shopping and bought the jewelcrafting epic necklaces and ring, plus an iLvl 200 epic caster shield and a trinket. In my first heroics I got a better weapon (iLvL 232 caster sword) and enough emblems (already had over 30 of them from leveling) to buy a second trinket, iLvl 245. Overall gearscore now 3769. This is certainly much better geared than my first level 80, also a healer, when he entered his first heroics some weeks after Wrath of the Lich King came out. We weren't wearing epics already then before even starting with heroics. We didn't already have emblems of triumph for iLvl 245 then before even reaching level 80.
And in spite of that there is hardly a heroic group in which I don't get a comment along the lines "you can heal in that gear ????". One guy even asked whether I could keep the tank alive, which shows a profound lack of knowledge of how paladins heal in heroics, because I barely ever heal the tank, I just slap a beacon on him and then he automatically gets healed for what I have to put on heals on the overeager dps. In one particular group I was with a death knight whose gearscore was much worse than mine, and he did under 1k dps, and people were still making comments about *my* gear, not his. And of course I heal just fine. I obviously need more mana breaks than somebody with a 5k+ gearscore, but I never failed to keep the tank alive, and even healed through Pits of Saron on heroic twice without problem. In all fairness, I did get a comment about "nice healing" after the fact, but the first reaction is nearly always complaints about me being undergeared.
I'd love to hear from the people who think that I'm undergeared for heroics from where exactly they think I should get my gear if not from heroics. I already spent over 10k gold on the materials for my smithed epics and the boe epics I bought, and there aren't any affordable epics left for me to buy for gold. I need emblems for better gear, and that means running heroics. If the Dungeon Finder AI puts me into a group for Pits of Saron, it obviously thinks that I'm geared well enough for that, and I don't really get the choice which dungeon I'm placed in. If some people are only interested in a free ride with both the tank and healer being over 5k gearscore, then they should shut their mouth and just leave any pickup group which isn't overpowered enough for them!