The Black Cats are lining up a move for former Portsmouth stopper James as cover for the injured Craig Gordon.
Gordon is set to miss the first three months of the season after breaking his arm in training and Bruce is ready to bring in James with Marlon Fulop set to leave the Stadium of Light.
Bruce admits he could offer James, who is also attracting interest from Celtic, a short-term deal at Sunderland.
"He's still England's number one goalkeeper. He'd be a good short term signing for us," Bruce told the Daily Mirror.
"But what we have to decide now is to whether make a signing or whether the two young keepers that we have are ready for the Premier League.
"The Premier League is a very tough place and we'll have to take some time to think about whether they're ready for that."