"It's been activated," James said on Wednesday when discussing playoff intensity, according to ESPN's Baxter Holmes.
"Obviously, we would have loved to have success when I was out, but we didn't, so this is where we (are) right now. I'm going to be a little bit different a little bit earlier than I would like to be in previous years."
James was absent for 18 games from Dec. 27 through Feb. 2 with a groin injury. The Lakers went 6-12 during that stretch and have an overall record of 28-29, marking the latest point in the season that a LeBron-led roster has been below .500 since his rookie year in 2003-04.
The Lakers have failed to qualify for the playoffs each of the last five years, while James has been in the NBA Finals every year since 2011, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat.
"My level of intensity has to be (high), unfortunately for me, because I don't like to do it at such an early time," James said.
"I'm all about being uncomfortable. I love being uncomfortable. I fall in love with being uncomfortable. This is another uncomfortable thing for me, and I love it."
While barely sneaking into the playoff picture would likely mean squaring off with the reigning champion Golden State Warriors in the opening round, James is confident the Lakers can challenge any opponent they're paired with.
"Yeah, I mean if I can get to the postseason, whatever team I got, I feel like we've got a good chance," he added. "Obviously, you want to be playing at a high level going into the postseason and try to ride that wave, so we're looking forward to seeing how well we can play and try to get into the playoffs and ride the momentum of how we played to get there."
The Lakers have the fourth-toughest remaining schedule in the Association, according to ESPN Stats and Information, and are three games back of the Clippers for the eighth seed.