Henson, 29, was named in coach Warren Gatland's 26-man panel for the June 4 Millennium Stadium encounter having only played a handful of matches since returning to the game following a self-imposed exile of 18 months.
The 31-cap centre played just four games for Saracens before making the switch to Top 14 side Toulon.
He scored a try on his debut for the French club but was recently handed a one-week ban after an incident involving his team-mates at a nightclub, although Toulon stopped short of sacking him.
Former number eight Owen believes Henson has been selected on the basis of his previous exploits, which include being part of the 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam-winning sides, rather than his current form.
"He's being picked on what he's done previously," Owen told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"It's a privilege to play for your national team. I think you've really got to earn that privilege and I just question whether Gavin has earned it in this instance.
"Warren Gatland and the coaches at Wales obviously rate Gavin very highly as a player. He's done some fantastic things throughout his career.
"But for me it sends the wrong message to the players in Wales who are striving, day in day out, week in week out, to try and get better and try and perform to get the opportunity to play for their country.
"I don't think it will cause too much resentment, for me it sends out the wrong message.
"For people looking in on Welsh rugby I think it's slightly embarrassing because we're fawning over a player who, at the moment, doesn't merit that sort of treatment."
Gatland has admitted that picking Henson represents a risk, although the Barbarians fixture would appear to hand the Kiwi the most straightforward opportunity to evaluate whether the former Osprey can step back up to international level as he looks to finalise his squad for the World Cup later this year.
Attack coach Rob Howley voiced his opinion that Wales have badly missed Henson's creativity, but Owen, a Lions tourist in 2005, believes that there are younger talents in Welsh rugby who are more deserving of the opportunity to show what they can do.
"One minute we're saying about someone not being ready and they get the opportunity and show that they are good enough," said Owen.
"It's just a case of believing in people and giving people the opportunity.
"To get that opportunity you've got to earn it. And that's the only thing for me about Gavin's selection.
"If he played for Toulon until the end of the season [and] he had five, six or seven really good games and he was showing that he's got the appetite and the desire to play for Wales then they should pick him.
"But for me at the minute he's being rewarded without having earned that shirt and that privilege of playing for his country."
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