I don't know that I'd say it's "absolutely necessary", I will say it's cheap insurance. The reason why is, when you take the stuff apart, you should thoroughly clean it. This means, without assembly lube, the parts would be completely dry. If you don't put assembly lube on it, you are going to get an extreme amount of wear on these items until they are completely saturated with oil. This may take one second or it might take 20 seconds or longer.
The way that camshafts are built, they have a very thin, hard layer at the riding surfaces. This is so they will wear a long time. They are also made to exact tolerances (down to the .001" if not more). If you run your valvetrain dry, you stand the chance of completely destroying this hard outer layer. After the hard layer is gone, the tolerances are gone, then you'll soon be back in there changing out more parts instead of just lifters. Depending on the engine involved, you could be completely replacing the entire head.
Assembly lube is just cheap insurance. I bought a bottle of it for under $10 (Lucas). There are many different brands out there, just pick one and use it. You cannot go wrong by doing so, but not doing so could cost you a lot of money in repairs in a very short period of time.