After leading through the first two of six dives at the spectacular Montjuic hilltop pool, He surrendered the lead to Russia's Evgeny Kuznetsov with a poor third effort.
The 26-year-old then stormed back with a brilliant final pair of dives. Team mate Qin Kai, the 2007 world champion, could only manage fifth after fluffing his third attempt.
He amassed 544.95 points with Kuznetsov taking the silver on 508.00 and Mexico's Yahel Castillo the bronze on 498.30.
"It was a hard final but I am happy with my performance," He told reporters before adding he felt some sympathy for Qin, the diver he won the three-metre synchronised springboard title with on Tuesday.
"An outdoor competition always brings more challenges, there is the sun, the wind. I feel some pity for Qin but during competition I only focus on my dives."
China won all 10 diving gold medals at the last world championships in Shanghai two years ago.
Russia moved inexorably towards a clean sweep of synchronised swimming gold medals when they secured the team free title at the world championships.
Having already triumphed in five events including Monday's team technical, the Russians amassed 97.400 points with a powerful routine at the hilltop Palau Sant Jordi, site of the 1992 Olympic Games.
Spain gave the home support reason to cheer by winning silver with 94.230 points and Ukraine took bronze on 93.640 ahead of Japan.
Russia, who have dominated the sport for around two decades, can make it seven titles out of seven in Saturday's free combination event.