James played a starring role for Bayer Munich as ran out 3-0 victors against Schalke at the Veltins-Arena on Tuesday to claim top spot in the Bundesliga.
The on-loan Real Madrid playmaker opened his account for the Bavarian giants and set up another for Arturo Vidal, after Robert Lewandowski had broken the deadlock midway through the first half.
The hosts enjoyed some good passages of play in the early stages, but it was Bayern who created the first couple of chances inside the opening 10 minutes.
Sebastian Rudy forced a superb save out of Ralf Fahrmann in the eight minute with a powerful strike from 30 yards out after being teed up by James, and the keeper had to be alert again two minutes later to deny Thomas Muller from an acute angle on the left.
The Royal Blues looked to have soaked up the early pressure and thought they had drawn first blood on 22 minutes when Guido Burgstaller slotted home on the rebound after Sven Ulreich stopped Armine Harit from scoring, but the offside flag cut their celebrations short.
The Video Assistant Referee was brought into play three minutes later as the visitors were awarded a controversial penalty for handball on Naldo, and Lewandowski made no mistake from 12 yards out to give Carlo Ancelotti's side the lead.
The Gelsenkirchen outfit were still smarting from the referee's decision when they fell further behind on 29 minutes, with an unmarked James finishing calmly from close range after being picked out at the back post by Corentin Tolisso.
Domenico Tedesco's men failed to threaten the visiting goal before half-time and they were fortunate not to go three goals down early in the second half as Muller headed James' cross from the right against the near post on 51 minutes.
But Schalke went close to reducing the deficit three minutes later when Daniel Caligiuri raced towards goal from the right flank and fired in a shot from 20 yards out that flew into the side-netting.
Leon Goretzka then failed to test Ulreich from distance with a shot that flashed across the face of goal on 59 minutes, and the action quickly switched to the other end as Kingsley Coman called Fahrmann into action with a driven effort from a tight angle.
The Royal Blues wasted a golden opportunity to get on the scoresheet in the 66th minute when Bastian Oczipka played Burgstaller in on goal, but his shot was blocked by the leg of Ulreich.
Bayern then sealed the win 15 minutes from time following good work from James inside the area to pick out Vidal, who volleyed home from 10 yards out.
James was denied a brace at the death as he got on the end of Muller's driven cross, with Fahrmann reacting sharply at his near post to keep out the Colombian star.
Bayern Munich and Germany number one Manuel Neuer has been ruled out of action until at least January 2018, after a recurrence of a foot injury.
The 31-year-old picked up the same injury to the same foot in April's Champions League quarter-final defeat to Real Madrid, and reportedly suffered a repeat of the same condition in training with Bayern on Monday.
Bavarians chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed the news of the injury blow, and expressed optimism Neuer would return to his best once he recovers after surgery.
Rummenigge said, "The operation went perfectly, which is the most important thing for now. We are now looking to the future. Manuel will be back to his previous best and available in January."
The club also explained the extent of the foot injury and the surgery required, saying, "He sustained a repeat hairline fracture of the metatarsal in his left foot in training on Monday. Following a final disagnosis on Monday lunchtime, the Bayern captain underwent surgery early on Tuesday morning to repair the damage. The op, performed by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Stockle in Tubingen, involved setting the fracture with a plate."
It appears more regular second choice keeper Sven Ulreich will come in for the 31-year-old World Cup winner, though he has made just 12 competitive appearances since signing for Bayern in 2015 from Stuttgart.
Stuttgart captain Christian Gentner insists he is feeling good despite suffering a serious facial injury during the 1-0 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Gentner took a knee to the head from Koen Casteel when the Wolfburg goalkeeper rushed out to grab a high ball. The collision caused a concussion and sent the midfielder to the ground unconscious.
The knock also broke Gentner's lower and lateral eye socket, nose, and upper jaw. However, he remains in a positive mood despite the setback.
"I feel very good. I sustained a few fractures in my face, but nothing irreversible," Gentner wrote on his facebook account. "That is pretty good news. I've seen the pictures of what happened by now."
He added, however, that only the left side of his face was fit for pictures: "The other half is not made for the public currently."
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl is delighted to be fit again and insists he doesn't see Nuri Sahin as a threat to his place in the team.
The 22-year-old was on the sidelines for over three months with a serious ankle injury, giving Sahin the chance to impress manager Peter Bosz.
Sahin made the starting lineup for Dortmund on Sunday, in the 5-0 thrashing of Cologne, with Weigl coming on for him in the 66th minute, but the German doesn't feel they are competing with each other.
"I'm not thinking about that at the moment. Right now I'm just glad to be back in the squad," Weigl told the official Bundesliga website.
"Nuri has done really well so far. We also have a lot of games ahead so it's important we can both push the team forward. We're not in fierce competition with each other. We understand each other very well.
"I'm happy for him that he's been able to get back on track after injury difficulties of his own. We'll see how the coach deals with it in the future and who is preferred. Perhaps it will be affected by whom our opponents are, since we're just pieces of a jigsaw.
"For me it's just important that I'm now fit and healthy, that I feel good and my leg doesn't give me any problems."
Bayern Munich must do without Manuel Neuer for their trip to Schalke in midweek after the keeper sustained a foot injury in training on Monday.
The Germany international had only returned to action last month after recovering from a broken bone in his foot, which had sidelined him since April.
Neuer started the last six games in all competitions for Carlo Ancelotti's side, but will miss the Bundesliga clash at the Veltins-Arena on Tuesday as he prepares to undergo a scan on the new injury.
The 31-year-old fractured a metatarsal in his left foot back towards the end of last season, but played on after having pins inserted which aggravated the problem, leading to his lengthy absence.
Bayern announced the news in a post on Twitter, which read: "@Manuel_Neuer suffered a foot injury during training today and will not travel to Schalke. He will undergo further examination tomorrow."
Schalke will be aiming for a third consecutive Bundesliga win when they host defending champions Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
The Royal Blues have made a strong start to their league campaign, winning three of their first four fixtures, most recently beating Stuttgart 3-1 and Werder Bremen 2-1 to move up to fourth in the standings.
"When you play against Bayern, you must do so with your head held high and your chest out, that's why our three points [against] Werder were so important - in terms of our self-confidence," Leon Goretzka told the official Bundesliga website after his side's win.
Meanwhile, Die Roten have the same record as Schalke after four games, winning three and losing one. Carlo Ancelotti's side have beaten Bayer Leverkusen, Werder Bremen, and Mainz, but lost 2-0 at Hoffenheim.
"[Schalke manager] Domenico Tedesco is doing a very good job, they had a good start. They have good organization in the offensive and defensive. It will be hard tomorrow, more difficult than last year," Ancelotti told the press.
In team news, Schalke have no serious injuries of which to speak and are likely to field a similar team to the one that beat Werder.
Bayern should have a virtually full-strength squad available, save Arjen Robben who has the flu, but Ancelotti revealed that Jerome Boateng will most likely be rested.
Wolfsburg have confirmed the appointment of former Mainz coach Martin Schmidt as the new man in charge, following Andries Jonker's departure on Monday.
Schmidt has penned a two-year deal with the Wolves and will begin his duties immediately. Jonker and the club parted ways following a disappointing start to 2017/18 which saw the Lower Saxony outfit collect just four points from their opening four matches.
Schmidt guided Mainz to the Europa League in 2015/16 although his fortunes were not as good in the following campaign as the O-Fives finished 15th in the Bundesliga. He then left the team and was replaced by Sandro Schwarz.
Nonetheless, the 50-year-old expressed excitement about his new role, saying: "I didn't have to think too long about the offer to take over at Wolfsburg. It was just a few hours between the initial contact and signing the contract.
"It's no secret that Wolfsburg showed interest in me some months ago but at the time that was out of the question out of respect and loyalty to Mainz.
"I'm really looking forward to this job even if there isn't much time to get my feet under the desk with two games coming our way this week."
Werder Bremen's players and management were pleased with the performance of striker Ishak Belfodil in his home debut for the Bundesliga club on Saturday.
The hosts were edged out 2-1 by FC Schalke on the day as Milos Veljkovic and Leon Goretzka scored for the visitors after Lamine Sane had put Werder in front.
However, manager Alexander Nouri was satisfied with the 25-year-old's performance despite the defeat, while sporting director Frank Baumann and fellow striker Maximilian Eggestein also had praise for the Algerian.
“He held the ball up well, his movement was good in one-on-one situations and he was very robust. I would’ve liked him to score or Fin (Bartels) could’ve made more of the chances Ishak gave him,” Nouri told the club's official website.
“The start wasn’t easy. He needed some time to find his feet but he showed the qualities he possesses in certain situations,” added Baumann.
Eggestein commented as well, saying: “He played really well, his ball control was brilliant and despite his height, he’s very dynamic in his dribbling. He is a different type of player. That makes him hard to pin down."
Wolfsburg board spokesman Wolfgang Hotze has confirmed the club have parted ways with coach Andries Jonker after a difficult start to the 2017/18 Bundesliga season.
The Wolves have struggled in this campaign having collected collecting just one win in four league games which was away to Eintracht Frankfurt. The Lower Saxony-based outfit are currently 14th in the standings.
Jonker was brought as a replacement for Valerien Ismael last February and he successfully helped the side avoid relegation by gaining four victories, and winning a two-legged relegation playoff against Eintracht Braunschweig in May.
Hotze told reporters, "This decision has not come on the back of the performance against Stuttgart (a 1-0 loss last Saturday) but comes down to the palpable stagnation in the development of the team.
"We would like to thank Andries Jonker and his staff for what they did late on last season to save VfL Wolfsburg from relegation."
Meanwhile, chairman Dr. Tim Schumacher added, "It was not an easy decision for any of us to take this decision so early in the season. However, we were unanimous in our internal discussions that we wanted to have a new coaching team going forward."
Stuttgart left-back Emiliano Insua confirmed he's close to full fitness again and is ready to contribute to the cause for the Bundesliga newcomers.
Die Schwaben returned to the German top flight after winning the second-tier title in emphatic fashion last term, and have enjoyed a solid start with two wins from four games.
Now with the imminent return of Insua, there's a real sense of optimism from the Argentine left-back as he revealed his process of rehabilitation.
"Over the past two-and-a-half weeks I went through an individual training programme with a physiotherapist in Argentina and was also in contact with the trainer-team from the Argentine national side," he told the club's official website.
"All's gone well so far. Now I am just happy to be back here to continue working on my comeback. I am looking forward to the atmosphere in the stadium and I'll be cheering on the lads.
"Hopefully, I will be back on the pitch with them again very soon. That's something I will be working hard towards achieving."
The 28-year-old has featured 73 times for Die Roten, registering 10 assists and scoring once.