Nate Eldredge has mentioned the Skewes number,and in fact it is not the only place where we can speak of counterexamples, within number theory:
The Riemann hypothesis is a fairly good case where counterexamples have been sought for through huge amounts of computations. In the paper "The $10^{13}$ ﬁrst zeros of the Riemann Zeta function, and zeros computation at very large height" by Xavier Gourdon and Patrick Demichel (using an algorithm by Andrew Odlyzko), the authors have checked out the truth of the Riemann hypothesis (that all non-trivial zeroes of $\zeta(s)$ are encountered whenever $s = 1/2 + \mathcal{i} T, \ T \in \mathbb{R}$), from the first, up to precisely the $10^{13}$th zero. In the same paper Riemann hypothesis has been tested numerically, checking out some $10^{9}$ zeroes from heights of $T$ as large as $10^{24}$. Now then, in spite of the fact that we have available such large amount of numerical evidence, this does not constitute a proof of the Riemann hypothesis, simply because the amount of zeroes is infinite, and there is no telling (yet) on whether we might encounter some day an instance of $\zeta(s) = 0, s = a + \mathcal{i} T, a\neq 1/2$, and we might as well wait long time for a numerical counterexample, much in the same philosophy mentioned in Nate Eldredge's answer, and all this would constitute the answer to the second part of your first question: "do different eventual counterexamples share any common features?". In the cases discussed by Eldredge and in here, the common feature of the (possible) counterexamples is that in both cases a gigantic amount of numerical evidence was (has been, in the case of the Riemann hypothesis) amassed, and still there was (there is) the possibility of finding a counterexample.

Numerical calculations are still useful, tough, because there has been instances where the calculation does not have to be carried out that far. For example, the so-called Fermat's Little Theorem states that all numbers of the form $2^{2^{n}}+1$ are primes, and Fermat carried up calculations up to $n=4$. However, when $n=5$, Euler proved that such was no longer the case, since this "Fermat Number" can be factored into 641 and 6700417.

As for your second question:
"Could we build an 'early warning system' set of heuristics for seemingly plausible theorems?"
I am going to answer with something that must be taken "with a pinch of salt", but it is the closest I can think of an answer. I want you to refer to the p vs np problem (Polynomial time computer solving as opposite to Non-polynomial time algorithms). Informally, it asks whether every problem whose solution can be quickly verified by a computer can also be quickly solved by a computer. I imagine, if someone solves this computer unsolved problem (finding a polynomial-time running algorithm for a known non-polynomial time problem), then perhaps we could answer your second question in the positive sense, at least for those theorems which involve computable problems. For other types of theorems (say, one non-expressible algorithmically) I cannot imagine at the moment how can one could set up anything that would resemble somehow an 'early warning system' (but it would be interesting, though, if someone could furnish something like that, at least for a restricted problem :-) ).