The strike should have been dealt with by Steele, but he allowed the ball to go under his hands and into the net, giving West Ham an equaliser after Ben Marshall had previously scored to hand Rovers an early advantage.
Steele was visibly disappointed with his effort, but James has offered a reason why the 25-year-old was unable to deal with what appeared to be a relatively weak shot.
Speaking on BT Sport's live FA Cup coverage, broadcast on February 21 from 1pm, James said: "Of course Jason Steele should save it but as ironic as it might sound, the ball wasn't hit well enough.
"Often, you are expecting a thunderbolt but the lack of speed undoes him. He should save it though."
Steele has been a regular between the sticks this campaign, with his appearance against West Ham representing his 29th game of the season.
He initially found himself as second choice to David Raya, but since the middle of September and after the arrival of Paul Lambert, he has remained ahead of the Spaniard in the pecking order.