The Spaniard has struggled to live up to his £72 million price tag since he moved to Stamford Bridge from Athletic Bilbao in 2018.
A string of high-profile errors saw him dropped from the team towards the end of last season, and those mistakes have continued into the new campaign.
The world’s most expensive ‘keeper was beaten too easily by Leandro Trossard’s strike in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Brighton on the opening weekend.
In the Blues’ following league game, Kepa passed the ball straight to Sadio Mane for Liverpool’s second goal as Frank Lampard’s side lost 2-0 to the champions at Stamford Bridge last weekend.
The west London club moved to bring in 28-year-old Edouard Mendy to provide competition for Kepa in deal worth £22 million.
James believes Kepa hasn’t been protected at Chelsea and questions whether the environment around the club is one in which goalkeepers can thrive.
‘I studied Kepa before he came to Chelsea and he fascinated me,’ James told talkSPORT.
‘This guy was capable of making saves I hadn’t seen in the Premier League for a long time, top end stuff, proper, proper top end stuff.
‘But then he would throw one in and I’d think, “OK, there’s a flaw here but if you get the right coaching and right environment for him, this guy could be the best goalkeeper in the Premier League”.
‘But I don’t think Kepa’s had the protection at Chelsea, I think he’s been hung out to dry. If he doesn’t do something right, it’s wrong and he gets absolutely lambasted by everybody.
‘In the end you have to look at yourself to see what you can do, but it’s also about whether you’ve got the environment…
‘You spend £72m on a player, talk about an investment, then you’ve got to work out how much do you spend to make him better rather than, “You’re that cost, you should sort it out yourself or not make the mistakes”, which is ludicrous.
‘I’ve analysed Mendy, he’s good with his feet, his positioning is good and he likes coming from crosses, which would be interesting if he drops a couple in the Premier League. Give him the opportunity and see if he still comes for crosses after that…
‘So with Chelsea, if you’re going to spend £72m on a player and then replace him with a £22m player, you’ve got to ask, is the environment right for either goalkeeper?’