After bursting onto the scene in Brazil four years ago, the already iconic number 10 has been reinforcing his reputation in Russia, inspiring his nation to a 3-0 win over Poland which was the stepping stone for qualification into the knockout stages.
That came on his first start after a calf injury restricted him to a reserve role in their 2-1 opening defeat to Japan, and his performance proved that, with James, Colombia can think big this summer.
"With [head coach Jose] Pekerman, we've always been able to win," James told The Players' Tribune. "Before, we knew we were good, but he's taught us we're good and can also win."
Winning is something the 26-year-old has grown accustomed to over the past four years. His eye-catching performances in Brazil earned him a move to Real Madrid, where Carlo Ancelotti gave him his first big break.
"It was like nothing else, I wanted to have a good World Cup so I could go on to another big club, so I reckon it was even more than I'd thought: I won the Golden Boot, we got to the quarter-finals - more than we had ever done. I reckon it made history for me, and for Colombia too," James reflected on the 2014 World Cup.
"It was a dream [joining Real]. I reckoned I wouldn't play much the first year and thank God I got a cracking coach in Carlo, a manager who put me on the field from the first day. It was very special, I scored over 15 goals that first year, and provided 15 assists. It was a unique year. We didn't win much as a team, but personally I had a great year."
Changes within the Spanish club eventually led to James seeking a move, and Bayern offered him the best opportunity – even if it did not quite follow the path he had expected.
"There were other great clubs but I was able to think it all through: Carlo was here and I'd done good things with him in my first year at Madrid, so why not try Bayern?" James said. "So I came. I'd only been here a month and then he was gone, so then I had doubts. That's when you think: what have I done?
"The doubts creep in. [Jupp] Heynckes came in and you think 'great, he's local, he knows the club.' I think it's going to be tough, but no, it was quite the opposite, I'm playing more; always in the team, he trusts me a lot. It was quite the opposite. Training was intense, but if you train well, you play well too."
Seven goals, 11 assists and a Bundesliga winner's medal: it was quite a debut season in the Bundesliga for the Colombian. Rightly so, he is the man Colombia are pinning their hopes on for glory this summer – even more so after his man-of-the-match performance against Poland.
Colombia face England in the last 16 on Tuesday commencing the business-end of the tournament for teams involved, where the challenges will only get tougher. "All national teams are strong now and really want to win the title, like France, Brazil," James said. "There are a lot of strong teams and Colombia have to take each game at a time. We've got a young squad, not as much experience as four years ago. We have many young lads who in a few years will be even better."
Lads like James, who used the last World Cup as a career springboard to thrust him to the level he has now attained, and is proving he belongs there.