The Blues youngster is enjoying an impressive breakthrough season at Stamford Bridge under the tutelage of boss Frank Lampard.
James has already made 26 appearances for his club across all competitions this season, including a handful of Champions League displays.
The 20-year-old’s form has even led to some suggestions he could be in line for a full England call-up, having been a regular in the Three Lions’ international youth set up.
He’s certainly been putting his talents to the test in the Premier League, and admitted it was Sterling who had given him the most problems.
When asked who his toughest opponent has been so far, James replied: “Probably Sterling I would have to say, he’s got mad pace and is so sharp off the ball.”
The pair have only come up against each other for half an hour, after James was brought on as a substitute for the final third of Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to City in November.
James’ biggest contender for the England under-21 right-back spot, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, had a better experience against Sterling last time out, earning plaudits for his performance.
But Wan-Bissaka revealed the challenge from James keeps him on his toes.
Speaking with the Chelsea star for a Football United campaign, Wan Bissaka said: “The competition makes us better players, you know you have to work hard and pushes us all to get better.”
Unlike Wan-Bissaka, James is yet to cement a regular first-team place with his club side.
But he feels under Lampard, he has a great opportunity to develop further with the aim of becoming a Chelsea star.
“It’s great playing under a Chelsea legend,” James added. “When I was supporting the club and growing up he was one of the leaders in the team so for him to manage you, and show you things that he learned within his game, a lot of people listen and you can learn a lot from him.”
James was speaking on behalf of a campaign for #FootballUnited, a charity initiative set up by professional footballers to help key-workers and their families through the National Emergencies Trust, who are fundraising via their Just Giving page.