Arsenal paid £11million to sign Cech from Chelsea last month, but James believes the Blues have got the better end of the deal having replaced the 33-year-old with a younger and cheaper option in Begovic, who cost £8million from Stoke.
“Petr Cech is a very good goalkeeper but he’s not at his best,” James told talkSPORT.
“At 33 years of age, there’s nothing to say he can’t get back to his best form though.
“If he does then Arsenal still have one hell of a goalkeeper but Chelsea still get £11million for a 33-year-old with one year left on his deal.
“They have gone out and bought Asmir Begovic, who was sought after by many big clubs in the last two or three years, and been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
“He’s got age on his side and, alongside Thibaut Courtois, you’ve got two of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League with 15-plus years ahead of them.
“If I was an Arsenal fan I would have been happier to have signed Begovic.”
James, meanwhile, is struggling to work out how Benteke will fit into Brendan Rodgers’ team at Liverpool as he closes on a £32.5million switch from Aston Villa.
“I’m surprised with Liverpool’s interest in Christian Benteke,” the former Liverpool and Villa goalkeeper said.
“He had a good run into the end of the season with Aston Villa but I can’t understand how he’s a Liverpool style player, especially the way Brendan Rodgers likes to play.
“Everybody has a price but £32.5million is a lot of money.”