The brothers were collectively nicknamed in the gospels as 'Boanerges' meaning sons of thunder. Presumably because, in modern politically correct parlance, they had 'anger-management problems'. They were among the first disciples Jesus called to follow him. Matthew's gospel describes it like this:
"As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea - for they were fisherman. And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.' Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, meding their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him." (Matthew 4: 18-22, NRSV)James was present with Peter and John at the transfiguration and Christ's agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He was one the first of the apostles to be martyred, killed by the sword on the instructions of King Herod, according to Acts 12:2.
Many legends have accrued about him, which I think are examples of how Christian communities have created saints in their own image. The siginificant example is the apocraphal story that he left Judea and went to Spain as an evangelist before he was martyed in Judea and that angels miraculously transported his dead body back to Spain. He is Spain's patron saint and his alleged relics in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela became the focus of a pilgrimage which continues to be popular today.
whose holy apostle Saint James,
leaving his father and all that he had,
was obedient to the calling of your Son Jesus Christ
and followed him even to death:
help us, forsaking the false attractions of the world,
to be ready at all times to answer you call without delay;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Prayer: Collect for James Apostle, Church of England Common Worship
Image: my photo of the sea of Galilee taken from a boat near Capernaum.