Usage of 'come in for' in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
In the 1700s and 1800s, the phrase "come in for" seems to have been used primarily in a neutral or positive sense. For example, from Rugan v. West (January 2, 1808), in Horace Binney, Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (1809), where the phrase evidently means "be entitled to":
The security does not alter the case, whether justly or unjustly obtained. If unjustly, it is out of the question. If justly, they [the creditors] might have applied for the sale of it, and have come in for the residue; and their choosing to hold to the security cannot make them less a creditor; if it is insufficient, the certificate bars as to the deficiency, and this shews them to be a creditor.
A subsequent case in the same volume, Grasser v. Eckart (April 1, 1809) uses the phrase in a similarly neutral or positive sense:
The son was the only object to interfere with the executors. He takes the whole real estate of the testator, which was of great value; he also takes certain specific legacies, and a small money legacy which it would have been absurd to give him, and to lock up in his chest, were he to come in for a large portion of the surplus.
From Joseph Fay, A Disquisition on Imprisonment for Debt: As the Practice Exists in the State of New-York (1818), where the meaning of the phrase evidently amounts to "receive":
Departing from this high ground, however, and considering the subject merely in the light of expediency, I will now proceed, in a more formal manner, to canvass the usual arguments for imprisonment, and in the course of my speculations, suggest some amendments, which I conceive may obviate some of the more considerable objections to which the present system is obnoxious. Our insolvent laws will necessarily come in for a measure of consideration, as they are interwoven with those which relate to imprisonment for debt.
Robert Latham, A Dictionary of the English Language, volume 1 (1876) spells out the main contemporaneous sense of "come in for," which evidently prevailed in both the United States and Great Britain:
Come in. ... e. With for the (division and accentuation being come-in for). Be in the way of obtaining; obtain; get.
[Examples:] Shape and beauty, worth and education, wit and understanding, gentle nature and agreeable humour, honour and virtue, were to come in for their share of such contracts.—Sir W. Temple
If thinking is essential to matter, stocks and stones will come in for their share of privilege.—Çollier, Essay on Thought.
The rest came in for subsidies, whereof they sunk considerable sums.—Swift.
However, Samuel Johnson's 1755 edition of the same Dictionary of the English Language (which Latham updated) offers a somewhat different take on the relevant phrase, although it includes the same quotations from Temple , Collier, and Swift:
To COME in for. To be early enough to obtain: taken from hunting, where the dogs that are slow get nothing.
Instances of recent positive usage of 'come in for' today
Although "come in for criticism [or blame or censure]" may today be the most common larger phrase that begins with "come in for"—making it quite natural to imagine that the phrase tends to introduce something in a negative way—it is not at all hard to find instances where the phrase has a neutral or positive sense. The most obvious positive phrase may be "come in for praise"—an expression that a Google Books search finds several recent matches for. For example, from Klaus Kreimeier, The Ufa Story: A History of Germany's Greatest Film Company, 1918-1945 (University of California Press, 1999):
It is therefore not surprising that Der Kinematograph gave the premiere of the Murnau film [Tartuffe] a panegyric that was truly outstanding for its lack of imagination and its hackneyed language. There was nothing about the film that did not come in for praise: "the superb photography" by Karl Freund, the "excellent architecture" by Robert Herlth and Walter Röhrig, the "truly brilliant casting" of Emil Jannings in the title role, the dramatic art of Lil Dagover, "a sophisticated, worldly actress who, in this role, played a classical part in a classical style,"
From Peter E. Knox & J.C. McKeown, The Oxford Anthology of Roman Literature (Oxford University Press, 2013):
In the Nigrinus, Lucian takes on a theme familiar from Juvenal, a denunciation of modern vice as exemplified by the decadence of contemporary Rome. It is presented as Lucian's report of a visit that he made to Rome seeking medical treatment and a conversation that he had there with a Platonist philosopher, Nigrinus, who lived in the capital but had withdrawn from its turmoil. The thread that provides continuity to their conversation is the contrast between Athens, from which Lucian has just come, and Rome. The people of Athens come in for praise because "philosophy and poverty are their foster-brothers, and they don't look with favor on anyone, citizen or foreigner, who tries to force luxury into their lives."
And from Philip Goff, Arthur Farnsley & Peter Thuesen, The Bible in American Life (Oxford University Press, 2017):
The New Testament receives far less space in the Woman's Bible than the Old, but Elizabeth, Anna, and Jesus's mother come in for praise; Mary becomes the subject of Cady Stanton's expansive remarks on motherhood. Jesus is regarded as innocent of patriarchy, while Paul takes the blame for women's subordination in Christianity.
I have no doubt that the definitions offered by the dictionaries cited in the poster's question reflect a modern real-world tendency to use "come in for" negatively, in conjunction with words such as criticism, blame, censure, or punishment. But it would be inaccurate to claim that historically the phrase carried a primarily negative connotation or to suggest that today it is never used in positive contexts.
The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century examples noted above show that instances of "come in for" used in a positive or neutral sense have appeared in English writing for hundreds of years, and examples of "come in for praise" in recent books from reputable publishers indicate that such positive usage still occurs today.