In the 2011–12 season, James scored 14 goals for Porto and delivered 11 assists.
In 2011, James won the LPFP Award for Breakthrough Player of 2011–12 Primeira Liga season at age 20, becoming the first Colombian player to do so.
He started his international career with the Colombia under-20 team, with which he won the 2011 Toulon Tournament.
He then captained the U-20 team during the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
James started his professional football career in 2006 with the Colombian second division club Envigado, with which he reached the Colombian first division through the 2007 promotion.
and scored his first goal for the club on 27 February with a long range strike in a 3–1 victory over Rosario Central.
His second goal for Banfield came on 26 September when he scored with a strike into the top corner from outside of the area in an important 2–1 win against Newell's Old Boys, a victory that helped Banfield win the Argentine championship for the first time in the club history.
For the Clausura 2010, on 13 February 2010, James scored a golazo in the match against archrivals Lanús with a left-footed lob to make the game 2–0 in the final minutes.
Since fellow Colombians Radamel Falcao, Fredy Guarín and Brazilian Hulk left the club during the last two seasons, James was able to start more regularly than before.After the game, daily sports website Diario Olé compared his playing and personal style to Cristiano Ronaldo and nicknamed him the "James Bond of Banfield".James added to his glowing reputation a week later with a goal in a daunting victory over Copa Libertadores group rivals Deportivo Cuenca away from home, scoring the fourth goal of the game with a nice finish in the area on his left foot. His wonderful scoring season continued with a brace in the Copa Libertadores group game on 10 March 2010.In a match against Olhanense, James chipped a goal outside the box at a tight angle.
In the same game, he assisted compatriot Jackson Martínez with a through ball for an eventual 3–2 win.
James became well known in Europe during his time at Porto, winning several trophies and individual awards during his three years at the club.