It means that many people have a reputation that doesn't match who they really are (their character). If you looked at them side by side (the reputation and the real character) you wouldn't think they were the same. So the idea is expressed poetically by saying they wouldn't know each other if they happened to meet.
a man's personality ("character") and what other people see him as (his "reputation") are two totally separate things, and wouldn't be used at the same time, so they wouldn't recognise each other "would not know his character if they met the street."
who a man really is and who he is perceived to be are two different personas.
when a man looks at himself in a mirror he sees a much different person than what people around him see.
So if a man's character (who he is) and his reputation (what other people see) were to meet in the street, they would be complete strangers to each other.
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