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The infante was born Jaime of Castile in 1267. On 17 February 1281, he was knighted by his father in the city of Burgos, while his brothers, John and Peter celebrated their betrothals. He received the lordship of the Cameros from his father in 1277, after Simón Ruiz de los Cameros, Lord de los Cameros, was executed along with his uncle Frederick of Castile after the latter tried to seize the throne from James's father. When another civil war broke out this time between his father Alfonso X and his brother Sancho, James was initially allied with his brother. However, in March 1283, he left Sancho and returned to the service of his father the king.