"It's a critical summer for myself," James told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck. "Obviously, the (Lakers) franchise is going to live forever. But for me personally, it's very critical, because I want to compete and I want to compete now."
James, who turns 35 in December, will watch the NBA playoffs at home this spring for the first time since 2005. He's keenly aware the Lakers must improve their roster in order to avoid the same fate next season.
"I've never played fantasy basketball," James said. "But I will be as active as I need to be for this franchise to get better. That's why I came here. I came here to win. And obviously, we need to get better, as far as our personnel."
Though free agency can be unpredictable, few of the marquee free agents this summer - specifically Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard - have been heavily linked to the Lakers. James, however, still likes their chances.
"We have an opportunity to get better," he said. "And there's a lot of talent out there, and a lot of guys that can help our franchise."