The incident is said to have occurred after Chelsea's 1-0 loss against Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.
“It’s alleged that the defender used improper and/or insulting and/or abusive words and/or behaviour towards a match official in the tunnel after the game,” the FA said in a statement.
James has been given until Friday to respond to the charge.
The England international did not play in the game at Stamford Bridge because of injury.
Chelsea has endured a miserable start to the season, which has seen the 2021 Champions League winners secure only one win in six league games under new manager Mauricio Pochettino.
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The Associated Press