I feel with you. I also liked KDE 3.x much better. It still lives on though in the form of Trinity. I am not sure it is available as a package for CentOS.
That having said, it is not that
bad. Sometimes it is even on the edge of usable. The problem is that with every new version the KDE developers replace known bugs with unknown bugs. But overall KDE 4 is converging to a nice desktop.
Personally I came to love the display of thumbnails on the taskbar, the favorites and recently used menu entries in the launcher and the ability to place panels at random places. So on most of my computers I have a panel with 3 clocks for different time zones, and a desktop switcher.
Many of the desktop effects get boring after some time (like exploding windows) so most of them are removed. On one of my faster laptops I have some enabled, especially when I let a Mac user peek onto my screen.
KDE4 doesn't compare to Gnome 3. My wife runs it on her netbook, and I may be darned if I understand the logic behind it. (But I was educated using punch cards and papertape. Maybe the leap is to far for me.)
Although KDE4 appears bloated I run it on an Atom netbook. Web browsers are much more sluggish than any KDE4 component.