After Cleveland's fifth loss in its past seven games -- 124-122 to a New Orleans Pelicans team that was without Anthony Davis on Monday night -- James unloaded on what he believes is a roster ill-equipped, in its current state, to lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June.
"I just hope that we're not satisfied as an organization," James told a small group of reporters who regularly travel to cover Cleveland's road games. "I just hope we're not satisfied."
The Cavs broke their city's 52-year championship drought last season, eliminating a Golden State Warriors team that went an NBA-record 73-9 in the regular season. This season, Golden State added former MVP Kevin Durant and veteran big men David West, Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee -- and leads the league with a 38-7 record. James says the Cavs, on the other hand, have regressed.
"We're not better than last year," he said, "from a personnel standpoint."
Cleveland opted against re-signing Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov during free agency and waived Dahntay Jones. In their place, the Cavs added rookie point guard Kay Felder, acquired Mike Dunleavy (who has since been shipped out in the Kyle Korver deal) and signed Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Meanwhile, James listed other free agents -- Raymond Felton, who signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, and Michael Beasley, who was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks -- as players who could have helped the Cavs make it through the regular season.
"It's great to have bodies," James said. "Obviously, in the playoffs, you go down to what, eight max? And if somebody gets in foul trouble, you go to nine. You're not playing back-to-backs. You have two days in between. You're able to lock in."
He contrasted that with the Cavs' schedule this week, which includes five games from Monday to Monday: at New Orleans, home against Sacramento on Wednesday, home against Brooklyn on Friday, home against Oklahoma City on Sunday and in Dallas on Monday.
"It's like when you don't have bodies. It's tough," James said. "The f---ing grind of the regular season. We're a top-heavy team. We have a top-heavy team. We top-heavy as s---. It's me, [Kyrie Irving], [Kevin Love]. It's top-heavy."
As he has done for several weeks, James continued to call for a backup point guard or playmaker to be added to the mix to help lessen the load for him and Irving, in particular. James played 44 minutes against New Orleans, racking up 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season. Irving played 42 minutes and scored a season-high 49 points.
James made it clear that his frustration is not aimed at any one teammate or person in the front office.
"I'm not singling out anybody," James said. "I'm not. Yeah, we won [the championship], but f---, you know what, let's see if we can do something."
He said he has already voiced his thoughts about the roster to general manager David Griffin face-to-face. Realizing how it could look to call for a point guard with Felder and DeAndre Liggins on the roster, James said it would not be fair to expect either of those young players to fill such a significant role on a title-contending team.
"We need a f---ing playmaker," James said. "I'm not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn't say that."
Using Twitter, James clarified his comments on Tuesday.
I not mad or upset at management cause Griff and staff have done a great job, I just feel we still need to improve in order to repeat...— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 24, 2017
if that's what we wanna do.— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 24, 2017
There were several motivating factors in James' sounding off. Mo Williams didn't report to training camp, leaving the Cavs without a veteran backup at point guard. J.R. Smith's thumb injury, which could sideline him for several more months, left Cleveland without one of its most reliable two-way players.
However, the timing of playing both Golden State and the San Antonio Spurs within a week's time seems to have opened James' eyes even more to the disparity in talent between the Cavs and some of their fiercest championship competition.
"They've got bodies," James said of San Antonio when asked about the Spurs' beating the Cavs without Pau Gasol or Tony Parker. "They've got bodies. For the most part, all championship-contending teams has got guys that are ready to step in. Knock on wood, what if Ky goes down? For two weeks. Let's say two. What if I went down for three weeks?"
A reporter responded to James that many wonder how Cleveland would do if James tapered his minutes at the end of the month, as Cavs coach Ty Lue said was the plan.
"Yeah, y'all are worried about five minutes. What if I went down for two weeks?" James said. "Trying to build something, you know?"
Lue was defiant in his postgame remarks, brushing off any concern about the rut the Cavs appear to be in.
"I know what I'm doing, and we're going to be fine," Lue said. "I know what I'm doing. I'm not going to change or not have confidence in what I can do."
James defended Lue for feeling the need to play him and Irving for heavy minutes.
"What else are we going to do?" James said. "You saw the game. Kyrie had to do that. And I tried to mix in my plays. We didn't have no choice. ... We got what we got."
James, in his 14th season, said the urgency in beefing up the Cavs' bench comes from the stage of his career.
"I don't know what we got to offer," James said. "I just know me, personally, I don't got no time to waste. I'll be 33 [next] winter, and I ain't got time to waste. That's what I'm talking about."
An earlier statement by James seemed to sum it all up.
"We got to figure it out," he said. "It's been a s---ty 2017 so far."