There's a huge difference between difficulty settings and "cheating". Some old school racing games would just have cars teleport in if they were too far behind - that's cheating. On the other hand turning up the difficulty level so that the AI is more competent (and the best AI's can now beat the best sim racing drivers) is not. One changes the rules of the game, one doesn't.I find it hilarious that people don't understand that video games cheat both ways. What do they thing difficulty sliders even are? It is a way to choose what level and type of cheating you want the computer to apply.
It's the primary purpose of all lies: to make things run smoother because humans have programmed themselves to say they hate lies while absolutely requiring them.
It's the same with fudging for me. I adjust monsters all the time before the encounter starts for a variety of reasons, I don't remember the last time I fudged a roll. One is playing by the rules of the game - customizing monsters is core - the other is ignoring the rules of the game to achieve a desired goal.
As always I'm not saying fudging is inherently wrong, it's just something I try to avoid. If you do it too often I think it takes something away from the game when the players realize what you're doing.