In an interview Wednesday on ESPN's "SVP & Russillo," Barkley advocated a return to the Cavaliers for James and, in the process, took a shot at Miami Heat fans.
"I've always thought he was going to go back to Cleveland," Barkley said. "Nobody dislikes LeBron. I think LeBron made a huge mistake with that 'Decision' crap. He's come back and since admitted that. That's the only thing people hold against LeBron.
"He's a great player, a great person. I hope he goes back to Cleveland. Those fans in Miami are not real fans, those fans in Cleveland are real fans. I've always hoped he would go back to Cleveland. That would be a great way to finish his career."
The Cavaliers finished 33-49 this season, five games out of the playoffs, and fired coach Mike Brown.
But Cleveland won the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft for the second straight year and third time in the past four overall.
That puts the team in position to add a young piece -- Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker are considered the top three prospects in this year's draft -- or a proven veteran in a trade to pair with dynamic point guard Kyrie Irving.